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Historical Geographers’ International Conference

2015 July 13
Four types of animal depicted in Edinburgh Castle

Four types of animal depicted in Edinburgh Castle

I am just back from the International Conference of Historical Geographers where I presented a paper on public history, heritage and the memorialisation of non-human animals in warfare. It included discussion of animal representations in the Scottish national war memorial in Edinburgh Castle. It has taken me a while to realise that I was engaged with many issues that interest such scholars: contested space, landscape, the past outside archives etc. My approach is just as likely to include wandering around a graveyard or driving around a locality as sitting in an archive – or in front of a computer.

At school I chose geography for O level rather than history. For history all you had to do was copy from the blackboard (tedious) but you also had to do this with neat handwriting (preposterous). Not that geography didn’t have its drawbacks. I am still rather stuck in the idea of geography as doing diagonal shadings – in pastels (rather than my forthright offerings)– of a farmer’s fields. I remember being told off for my vertical lines in red though I am sure I am not the only person reading Norwegian noir to be delighted to realise I actually know I am reading about U shaped fjords – a mainstay of such earlier “knowledge”.

It was pleasing to see at the conference that maps and mapping are still in fashion though coloured shading seems to have had its day.

One Response Post a comment
  1. Felicity Harvest permalink
    July 13, 2015

    My strong memory of Geography O Level is the section through the Wealden ridges on which I now live, fitting in neatly between the North and South Downs. That and an abiding love of maps – I could happily take a map to bed with me for a good read – and sometimes do.

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