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This lecture explores ongoing research by Beth Williamson, a collaborative PhD student at the Society, into the Society’s approach to resolving the problem of how to spell place names. The history of orthography at the Society is a story that has never previously been told, and in sharing insights from her research, Beth’s lecture will address some fundamental questions: What factors led the Society to appoint the Orthography Committee? How did the Committee function during its years of operation (1878–1919)? What does orthography suggest about the role of the Society as an arbiter of geographical truth?

Drawing on the Society’s archival collections, this lecture will offer insights into how the development of the Society’s orthographic system reveals fundamental tensions between institutional authority and individual expertise. It will invite us to consider the colonial legacies of 19th and early 20th century geographical knowledge production in the context of current efforts to decolonise the discipline of geography.

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR

Key Information

Open to all
20 May 2024, 2.30pm-3.45pm
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

In-person
Member £0.00, Non-member £5.00
Online
Member £0.00, Non-member £5.00
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