The RGS-IBG Annual International Conference regularly attracts over 2,000 geographers from around the world. This year, the conference is taking place at Newcastle University, with in-person, online, and hybrid ways to participate.
The Chair's theme for the 2022 Annual International Conference is Geographies Beyond Recovery. The theme was selected by the Chair of conference, Professor Rachel Pain (Newcastle University, UK), in conversation with the Society's Research Groups and with the Research and Higher Education Committee.
We welcome submissions for the conference programme which engage directly with this theme, as well as others focusing on all areas of geography. The conference will take place at Newcastle University from Tuesday 30 August to Friday 2 September 2022, with in-person, online and hybrid ways to participate.
How do communities and environments recuperate, repair and transform after disasters?
Recent events in the Global South and North have focused attention on the interrelated nature of disasters, from harmful events that seem personal or site-specific to global catastrophes. The longstanding roots of disaster geographies, and their compounding effects in the present, are ever clearer. From climate change, flooding and heatwaves, to COVID-19 and mental health crises; from rapidly declining biodiversity, to dispossessions of people from land, housing and community resources; from ongoing and evolving forms of racism, settler colonial violence and gender-based violence, to environmental loss and degradation - disasters are rarely singular short term ruptures, and are often interconnected across place and scale. For many people, disaster disruption, loss and change are endemic and normal, beyond recovery. Disasters unfold slowly, blurring any sense of before, during and after, and their impacts habitually target already marginal people and places.
What place, then, for recovery?
As critical psychotherapeutic theories of traumatic experience emphasise, the narrative of recovery as a return to previous life is often impossible as well as undesirable. From postcolonial, feminist and environmental justice perspectives, too, current forms of political, economic and social organisation create the chronic conditions that precipitate and compound disasters, and these perspectives call for alternative community-based forms of restoration. Meanwhile, post-capitalist and post-Anthropocene writers view the concept of recovery as a neoliberal fallacy: bold and transformative reinventions are needed if we are to see socially and environmentally just futures.
The conference theme asks geographers and our research collaborators to critically interrogate the idea and practice of recovery, across scales of life and global contexts, and to explore the geographies that might lie beyond.
First, how is recovery understood, within, across, and beyond sub-disciplinary fields in human and physical geography? What are the temporalities and spatialities of recovery? What does it look like, feel like and entail? Where does the work of recovery begin and end? Who is doing this work and bearing its costs? What divisions and inequalities between people and environments are exposed or concealed through recovery work? As disasters multiply, what alternative framings are required, to account for their complexity and intersections? Who undertakes and benefits from conceptual and narrative work around recovery? Might ideas and practices of recovery become tyrannical, or can they be emancipatory?
Second, what are the ways in which communities, environmentalists, artists, activists and scholars are imagining and engaging emancipatory futures in response to disaster geographies? What conditions enable people’s survival and resistance, and the rebuilding of places and environments that support the flourishing of life? What modes of organising responses, via established and new, formal and informal structures, are producing novel and sustainable solutions to ‘recovery’ from endemic disasters? Examples such as mutual aid, circular economies, commoning, permaculture, deep adaptation and post-traumatic healing often presume that disaster recovery cannot be separated from wider struggles for human rights and freedom from violence against people and their environments. What disaster solidarities are being forged, at different scales? And how are forms of geographical research, pedagogy and engagement variously part of, impeding or ignoring efforts to rebuild sustainable futures? What modes of thought, practice, collaboration and solidarity can we contribute to the work of repair, revival and transformation, beyond recovery?
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