Dr Simon Naylor
- Senior Lecturer in Historical Geography (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences)
I am a historical geographer with research interests and expertise in the histories of science, technology and exploration. My research is bound together by an interest in the histories and geographies of studies of the world in situ, what we refer to today as fieldwork or fieldscience. I have investigated and published on a number of different scientific approaches that employed fieldwork as part of their practice. I have conducted research into a wide range of field sciences, including botany, zoology, geology, antiquarianism, geography, meteorology, geophysics, and terrestrial magnetism, as well as economic and social survey techniques. I have worked in a range of temporal settings, from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. For instance, with Dr James Ryan, I co-edited New Spaces of Exploration in 2010, which argued that more attention needs to be paid to the history of exploration in the twentieth century. I have studied the conduct of science in a number of geographical settings, including South America, Australia, Britain and the British colonies, and the polar regions.
All of my work in some way addresses the issue of science's geographies. I am interested in the significance of specific places for the development of scientific ideas or techniques. I am also interested in the relevance of particular spatial units for the conduct of science. I have published articles, chapters and books on the significance of place, region and nation for scientific conduct. I am interested in the representation of space and place in scientific discourse and have published on the history of geological and geographical cartography, as well as photogrammetry and other forms of aerial survey. Lastly, I have expertise in the architectural spaces that have been created in which to do science. I have published on the history of conversaziones, museums, observatories, as well as fieldsites. I have also published a number of position pieces on the historical geographies of science (most notably in my 2010 book Regionalizing Science and in my 2005 British Journal for the History of Science article).
Over the last few years I have developed research interests in histories of weather and climate. Funded by the British Academy (2012-14) I am researching the historical geographies of meteorology in the nineteenth century, with a particular focus on meteorological observatories. I have examined the establishment of formal weather observatories in the British Isles and in the British colonies, including India and Toronto. I have also conducted research into the Admiralty's use of Royal Naval ships as mobile observatories in the first half of the nineteenth century. I am also currently working on the use of meteorological instruments at sea, and on meteorology's relationship with terrestrial magnetism.
My work on nineteenth-century meteorological studies is complemented by research I have conducted into more recent appreciations of the weather and climate. Funded by the AHRC (and working with Prof Georgina Endfield and Dr Lucy Veale at University of Nottingham) I have conducted research into how people remember the weather in relation to their own life stories, and how they make sense of climate changes. This grant has fed into another AHRC project, which is currently examining memories of snow in Wales and Northwest England. I am also a Co-Investigator on a AHRC-funded project, beginning in December 2013, that will examine the histories and geographies of extreme weather in the UK from 1700 up to the present day. This project will build up a national picture of extreme weather, how such events were been understand by the British population, and the ways in which particular regional communities responded to them.
Naylor, S. (2010) Regionalizing Science: Placing Knowledges in Victorian England. Series: Science and culture in the nineteenth century (11). Pickering & Chatto: London. ISBN 9781851966363
Naylor, S. (2009) Fieldwork and the geographical career: T. Griffith Taylor and the exploration of Australia. In: Naylor, S. and Ryan, J. (eds.) New Spaces of Exploration: Geographies of Discovery in the Twentieth Century. Series: Tauris historical geography series (2). I.B. Tauris: London, pp. 105-124. ISBN 9781848850170
Turchetti, S., Dean, K., Naylor, S. and Siegert, M. (2008) Accidents and opportunities: a history of the radio echo-sounding of Antarctica, 1958–79. British Journal for the History of Science, 41(03), pp. 417-444. (doi: 10.1017/S0007087408000903)