CFP: Participatory Historical Geographies – RGS-IBG 2023

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*With apologies for cross posting*


Call for Papers: Participatory Historical Geographies. 

2023 Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers Annual International Conference, London, 30th August – 1st September 2023.


Convenor: Ruth Slatter (The Open University)


Over the past fifteen years historical geographers have demonstrated that it is both possible and valuable to undertake participatory historical geographies (DeSilvey, 2007; Bressey, 2014; Cameron, 2014; Patchett, 2016). This research has developed innovative ways of co-producing knowledge with research participants and fundamentally engaging communities beyond academia in the research and knowledge production processes. As a result, it has simultaneously emphasised the authority and importance of public voices and provided alternative - often more ordinary yet intimate - insights into subjects of historical geographical inquiry (DeLyser, 2014; Denning, 2022).


The importance of and momentum behind participatory historical geographies was emphasised in 2020 by the new editors of the Journal of Historical Geography. In their reflections on the journal’s future directions, they identified the importance of the continual growth of its ‘Historical Geography at Large’ section (Thomas et al, 2020). Initially established in 2010 to provide a space for creative reflections on ‘public historical geography’ and ‘participatory models of knowledge creation’ (Driver, 2010), the new editors acknowledged that this section now needs to include ‘deeper reflections’ on historical geographers ‘innovative engagement strategies’ with public partners.


However, undertaking participatory historical geographies is not always straight forward. Necessarily requiring creative risks, it is also often difficult to fit within the structure of carefully costed funding applications. In response, this session will provide a friendly space for historical geographers to share their experiences of developing and using participatory methodologies. Speakers are invited to propose 10-minute papers about their plans, successes, and failures. These papers will then be used to inspire an open conversation, where participants will be able to ask for advice, seek encouragement and inspiration, and commiserate about the pit falls of engaging in participatory historical geographies.


Papers could address topics including, but not restricted to:

  • Participatory archival research
  • Archive intervention and activism as a form of participatory research
  • Creative interactions with historical artistic practices
  • Coproducing knowledge about sensory experiences of historical spaces with contemporary communities
  • Using historical geography methodologies to co-produce knowledge with contemporary communities


Submissions from postgraduate students, early career scholars, and those in established posts are all welcome. Co-authored papers with community partners are highly encouraged. Please contact with any questions.  


If you, or your community partners, are non-geographers based in the UK or geographers or non-geographers based overseas please get in touch. There may be the possibility of obtaining a day guest pass to the conference to enable you or your community partner to attend this session.


Please send a title and abstract (of no more than 150 words) for proposed 10-minute papers to by 16th February 2023.


In a separate paragraph, please indicate if you would like to, or will be able to attend this session in person or online. The RGS’s 2023 annual conference will include a mixture of in person, entirely online, and a limited number of hybrid sessions. Once abstracts are submitted, a decision will be made about the format this session will take.


If you intend to attend the conference in person, please accompany your abstract with details of any special audio-visual requirements or mobility requirements.


Ruth Slatter

Lecturer in Geography, The Open University



Bressey, Caroline (2014) Archival interventions: participatory research and public historical geographies, Journal of Historical Geography, 46, 102-104.


Cameron, Laura J. (2014) Participation, archival activism and learning to learn, Journal of Historical Geography, 46, 99-101.


DeLyer, Dydia (2014) Towards a participatory historical geography: archival interventions, volunteer service, and public outreach in research on early women pilots, Journal of Historical Geography, 46, 93-98.


Denning, Stephanie, Richard Scriven and Ruth Slatter (2022) Three participatory geographers: reflections on positionality and working with participants in researching religions, spiritualities, and faith, Social and Cultural Geography, 23.6, 892-910.


Driver, Felix (2010) Editorial: Historical geography at large, Journal of Historical Geography, 36.3, 243-244.  


Patchett, Merle (2016) The taxidermist’s apprentice: stitching together the past and present of a craft practice, Cultural Geographies, 23.2, 401-419.


Thomas, Nicola, Diogo de Carvalho Cabral, Maria Lane, Stephen Legg, Divya Tolia-Kelly (2020) Editorial: October Editorial, Journal of Historical Geography, 70, 88-90.