As part of our mission to undertake research on the Society’s Collections and to make them more accessible, we have awarded 10 Wiley Research Fellowships for 2020-21.
We’re speaking to each of our Research Fellows to find out more about their projects and the latest to be showcased is Dr Bradley Rink from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
Bradley is examining growing tourism and worldliness through aeromobility in Africa. We caught up with him to discuss his research, why he applied for the Fellowship and what he’s hoping to find in the digital archives.
I am a human geographer who is interested in the role of mobilities - and specifically aeromobilities - as they relate to African cities. My previous research on practices of flying within (and over) Cape Town brought me to an archival method that underscored the importance of commercial aviation on the development and growth of ‘airmindedness’, worldliness and tourism in Southern Africa. My earlier work elaborated on questions of the aeromobile gaze, building upon John Urry’s seminal work. Yet, I wanted to explore the notion of ‘airmindedness’ both as an ‘awareness of above’ as well as ‘below’ from an aerial perspective.
I became familiar with the Wiley Digital Archives (WDA) through my participation in the combined 2020 RAI/RGS-IBG Conference Anthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future. I participated in the ‘Digital Archives Slam’ where I presented an initial dive into the WDA and what it could offer with regard to my interest in African airmindedness. My current WDA Research Fellowship study builds upon this work. My initial explorations of the WDA revealed an intriguing sample of mundane archival material, yet I was keen to pursue an opportunity to engage with and explore the WDA - and the Society’s Collections particularly - to more fully trace the arc of airmindedness that emerges from the historical record. Using the WDA has allowed me to perform archival research at a time when no one is flying anywhere - myself included.
The project aligns very well with my broader research project at the University of the Western Cape, entitled Mobilities in the global South. Through that project I seek to investigate the critical importance of movement and stasis both in localised and translocal contexts of cities in the global South. My research across a range of mobility practices and subjectivities attempts to question boundaries, rootedness and territory in the context of African cities.
My hope is to encounter mundane traces of airmindedness in the marginalia of the archival material that relates to air travel in Africa. My research using the WDA thus far has uncovered hidden stories buried in the margins, including material from airline magazines, airline route guides, and mundane paperwork from passengers’ travels. While the starting point for this project has been the William Buller Fagg Collection (RAI Collection no: FP 046), my present research has made use of Society Collections including the library manuscripts collection which includes, inter alia, Lord Nathan’s 1956 address entitled World Aviation and Geography delivered to the Geographical Association, and various photographic collections demonstrating shifts in aircraft technology from RGS Images Online and Loose Images collections. Together these materials - which might otherwise be easily overlooked - help to highlight a new wave of airmindedness established across Africa in the decades between the 1930s and 1960s.
Find out more about our Wiley Digital Archive Research Fellowships.
Find out more about research on our Collections.
The findings from our Wiley Research Fellows from this year will be shared in the autumn.
This year, the Society’s annual EXPLORE weekend has expanded into a week-long RGS expedition and fieldwork festival: eight days of events and workshops in-person and online which celebrate field science and travelling with purpose.
30 September 2022
The final day of the conference was another action-packed day, with a further 214 sessions across 35 stages.
3 September 2021
The Society stands in solidarity with Black communities globally against racism and inequality, and joins the global calls to reaffirm that Black lives matter following the shocking and tragic death of George Floyd.
11 June 2020
Our 2019 Geographical Fieldwork Grant recipients are heading out into the field to begin their summer fieldwork.
10 July 2019
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