15 November 2021
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR
Free for members, £5 standard
Founded in 1821, this year the Société de Géographie de Paris celebrates its bicentenary. Though it preceded the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), little is known about the fashioning of the RGS and its practices by the French Société.
Thanks to recent international scholarship, we are now able to expand the existing historical and historical geographical narratives of the RGS, which for the most part been presented on narrow institutional or disciplinary scales or against national or imperial backdrops.
By situating the Society’s Fellowship, ambitions and knowledge-making practices within wider trans-national and trans-institutional frames, this talk will focus upon several prominent RGS staff members, officers and associates. In so doing, Emily will demonstrate a number of cross-Channel currents connecting the RGS with its French counterpart, and several of its associates in the second half of the 19th century.
Emily's talk discusses the engagement of the latter with visual technologies, notably the magic lantern, an early form of projector, which was ubiquitous in all manner of entertainments, and most infamously in gothic phantasmagoria shows in mid-century Paris. As well as mediating the resonance of the traumas of the Revolution of 1789 and the successive revolutions of the century, this image device also found employment in educational, experimental, ethical and propagandistic causes.
The regular communications between the staff of the two societies and exchanges of objects, funds and ideas point to a degree of trans-institutional coordination in geographical knowledge-making in the second half of the 19th century. In turn, these offer views onto more extensive, and profound, Franco-British exchanges which impacted on individual lives, institutional bodies and disciplinary imaginaries.
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