Dr Cheryl McGeachan
- Senior Lecturer (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences)
I am an historical and social geographer interested in researching the lived experiences of mental ill-health in historical and contemporary contexts. My work is grounded in uncovering worldly encounters with people, place and objects and I have worked with numerous archives, collections and community partners to develop stories of mental ill-health that are often overlooked and ignored.
Mental (ill)health, outsider art and asylum spaces
I am driven by a desire to understand the worldly configurations and experiences of mental ill-health in a range of contexts.
Current research includes working in partnership with Glasgow Museums on the Art Extraordinary Collection, a unique collection of Scottish 'outsider art', to create new stories of mental ill-health and creativity. Working in collaboration with Leverndale Recreational Therapy Department, Barlinnie Prison, Project Ability and Gartnavel Hospital we have developed a range of community curated exhibitions and resources. We are currently in the process of developing Glasgow Museums first ever fine art Handling Kit and a permanent exhibition for Kelvingrove Museum. Key to this project is to generate further understanding of the lived experiences of mental ill-health and its associated geographies.
I have written extensively on asylum worlds, using various biographical tools to track the traces of lives lived and lost in such places. In doing so I draw attention to the importance of humanising the histories and geographies of asylums through the 'voices' and experiences of those who inhabited these spaces.
School gardens, ecological anxiety and world-building
I am the Associate Director of the International Green Academy, a collective of researchers from the University of Glasgow and University of Arizona, as well as schools at Glasgow (Boclair Academy & Drumchapel High School) and Tucson (Tucson Unified School District), working together to build new worlds through developing school gardens. We see school gardens as vital political spaces that can challenge societal problems, such as austerity and food insecurity, and aid in creating more hopeful futures. This project is founded on the principles of ecological justice and empowerment.
Crime, violence and (in)justice
I am interested in exploring issues of (in)justice through attention to crime and violence. My current research into forensics and police surgery illuminates the possibilites for examining neglected experiences of violence, death and justice making.
Recent work includes exploring the Scottish police surgeon. The nineteenth century figure of the police surgeon undoubtedly played a significant role in the development of forensic medicine in Britain, innovatively fusing legal and medical worlds, yet very little is known about the role and its practices. This work seeks to uncover the practices of the police surgeon in the nineteenth century in three key cities across Scotland (Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh) through the figures of Sir William Macewen, Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn and Dr Francis Ogston. In doing so, it seeks to develop a ground-breaking understanding of the key practices of Scottish police surgery during the period and to uncover the geographies of the practice in Scotland.
Key Research Interests
- Geographies of mental ill-health
- Asylum and post-asylum geographies
- Biography and life-writing
- Violence and forensics
- Outsider art and art therapy
- School gardens and ecological anxiety
- Criminal-medical histories and geographies
- R.D. Laing and the history of psychiatry
- Psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic geographies
- Medical humanities
Chair of the Historical Geography Research Group
I sit on the Executive Committee for the Medical Humanities Research Centre at the University of Glasgow.
I am an External Adviser of the Heritage Committee of Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
McGeachan, C. (PI) and Shaw, I. (Co-I) Green Technicians: Diversifying and Enhancing Student Outdoor Learning, University of Glasgow Cancellor's Fund 2020-2021.
McGeachan, C. (PI), Mathers, H (Co-I), Hepworth, S. (Co-I), Maddra, S. (Co-I) and Brown, R. (Co-I) Mapping Edwin Morgan: Developing Multidisciplinary Collaboration through Creative Active Learning Techniques, Learning and Teaching Development Fund, University of Glasgow 2020-2021.
Shaw, I. (PI), McGeachan, C. (Co-I), Phipps, A. (Co-I) International Green Academy: School Gardens and Progressive Urban Ecologies, British Academy Tackling the UK's International Challenges 2019-2021.
McGeachan, C. (PI) A Distinctly Scottish Surgeon? Uncovering Police Surgery in 19th Century Scotland, Carnegie Trust 2018-2019.
Miller, G. (PI), McGeachan, C. (Co-I), White, R. (Co-I) and Xenofontos. S. (Co-I). Other Psychotherapies - across time, space, and cultures, Wellcome Trust Small Grant in Medical Humanities 2016-17.
McGeachan, C. (PI) A Tapestry of Tales: Investigating the Historical Geographies of Art Therapy and 'Art Extraordinary' in Scotland (1950-1980), British Academy Small Research Grants 2014/16.
McGeachan, C. (PI) Encountering R.D. Laing's Archive: Mental Health, Care and Creativity, Wellcome Trust Small Grant in Medical Humanities 2014.
McGeachan, C. (PI) Narrating the Archive: A pilot study into student use of archives in Glasgow, Learning and Teaching Development Fund 2013-14.
I would like to develop undergraduate and postgraduate projects with students interested in the following:
- crime, violence and forensics
- experiences of mental ill-health and asylum spaces
- historical geographies of war, trauma and death
- geographical biographies and life-writing
- ecological (in)justice and ecological anxiety
- patient narratives from the institutional and/or deinstitutionalised landscape
- sites of death and disease in the 19th century city
- creative writing and mental (ill)health
- outsider art and collections
- Farquharson, Lauren
L720 ‘Fearful landscapes’: parochial asylums and poorhouse lunatic wards – where the Scottish Poor and Lunacy Laws collided
- Hržić, Katja
International labour migration and fair employment in the Scottish fishing industry
- Kane, Megan
'Mattering violence: Rethinking the everyday politics of food banking'
- Ruane, Rose
Exploring research-based creative writing as an ethical strategy for amplifying silenced voices from asylum archives
Louise Boyle - Running into the SAnD: a social and anticipatory geography of Social Anxiety Disprder (SAnD) in on- and offline worlds.
Co-supervision with Professor Chris Philo.
Kim Ross - The Locational History of Scotland's District Lunatic Asylums, 1857-1913.
Co-supervision with Professor Chris Philo and Professor Malcolm Nicholson (completed 2014)
Hazel Morrison - Unearthing the Clinical Encounter: Gartnavel Royal Mental Hospital 1921-1932.
Co-supervision with Professor Chris Philo and Professor Malcolm Nicholson (completed 2014)
Cristin Sarg - Scottish-Jewish 'Madness'?: An examination of Jewish admissions to the royal asylums of Edinburgh and Glasgow, c. 1870 - 1939.
Co-supervision with Professor Chris Philo (completed 2018)
I am passionate about the role of education in promoting empowerment, understanding world complexities and generating hopeful futures. My teaching emcompasses a commitment to worldly engagement with issues such as conflict, violence and institutionalisation.
I teach on a number of courses throughout the Geography Degree programme including:
- Geography-1 Lectures 'A World of Conflict'
- Geographical Thought
- Geographical Techniques 'Visual Methods' and 'Documentary Sources'
- Geography 4 Beyond the Academy
- Geography Summer School
- MRes in Human Geography
I am the Convenor of the Geography-1 Programme and the Senior Adviser of Studies for Geography
- Historical Geographies: Care, Conflict and Confinement (this option will next run in the 2020/21 academic year)
This course critically considers the ways in which the sub-disciplinary field of historical geography has explored the geographies of people, places and environments in the past and their reverberations in contemporary times. Using examples from work on colonial lives, pirate tales, family biographies and (sometimes unsuccessful) experiments on bodies and minds, this course will examine some of the central theoretical debates in historical geography. A significant section of this course will be devoted to the practice of historical geography and time will be spent rooting around in 'archives' of varying kinds. Dealing with a variety of historical materials such as manuscripts, film, diaries, photographs, objects, novels and maps, this course enables you the opportunity to build a set of core skills in conducting research on the past and a critical awareness of the complex processes involved. In doing so, this course aims to promote a deeper understanding of the different ways in which the past has been (re)presented in geographical work and provides you with the chance to reflect personally on the different ways in which you may wish to story past lives and past places.