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The Open University's Centre for Geographical and Environmental Research

The 7th Doreen Massey Annual Event: Digital Geographies

Tuesday, 24 March 2015, 10:30 - 18:00

The Berrill Lecture Theatre

Digital geographies: How is the digital reformulating geographies’ objects and methods?

This one-day event brought together a range of scholars currently exploring and experimenting at the boundaries of the digital and the geographical today, and spoke to Emeritus Professor Doreen Massey's interests in spatial politics and justice. Audio and video webcasts from this event are available on the page below.

Digital technologies are now so diverse and pervasive that, as David Berry has suggested, the category of 'the digital' is becoming almost meaningless. However, that saturation and reach is also highly differentiated, socially and spatially. These differences are also visible within geography as Kitchin argues in his neat division into the geographies of the digital; the geographies by the digital and the geographies produced through the digital. Thus for Kitchin (2014), the spatial distribution of digital technologies, the ways in which digital technologies have altered the nature of objects and practices studied in geography and introduced new methods and practices for producing geographical knowledge are all fundamental. However, how do these vary across subdisciplines? Moreover, digital technologies are not simply setting an empirical research agenda; their theorisation and their effects in the world are also challenging how we as geographers conduct our own research practice. How have objects of concern altered and how is geographical practice – its tools and techniques – altering to reflect the ubiquity of digital technologies?


For Sessions 1 and 2, video was unavailable. The audio is provided below alongside a link to download each speakers' presentation. For Session 3 onwards, audio and video is available.

Welcome & Introduction

Gillian Rose and Joe Smith (Webcast incorporated into Session 1, below)

Session 1: The digital in geography – who, what, where, when?

This session will provide an introduction to contemporary issues in digital geography, why it matters and offer a conceptual framework for the day’s discussions

Chair: Prof. John Allen

Concept note: Prof. Rob Kitchin, ERC Advanced Investigator and former director of the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis at the National University of Ireland Maynooth

Geographies Of, Produced By, and Produced Through, the Digital (Presentation)


Dr Agnieszka Leszczynski, Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Birmingham

Spatial Media/Tion (Presentation)

Dr James Ash, Lecturer in Media, Newcastle University

Post-phenomenology, Digital Objects and Methodology (Presentation)



Session 2: Reformulating urban geography – Sentient cities:

How is the urban being reformulated through digital technologies? What do these socio-technical interventions mean for urban geography? 

Chair: Dr George Revill

Concept note: Prof. Gillian Rose, Professor of Culture Geography, Department of Geography, Open University

Smart, Intelligent, Sentient - and that's just the City: Digital Agency and the Urban (Presentation)


Dr Ayona Datta, Senior Lecturer in Citizenship and Belonging, School of Geography, University of Leeds

The (un)smart city: Fictions of sentient urban futures (Presentation)

Dr Nick Bingham, Senior Lecturer in Geography, Department of Geography, Open University

Weaving the Sentient City: Some Matters of Articulation (Presentation)

Prof. Michael Batty, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), University College London

Technologies we use to understand the city are changing the very things we seek to understand (Presentation)



Session 3: Reformulating development geography – changing communities:

How are spatial justice and social justice being reformulated through the digital? Does the digital offer new opportunities for addressing global inequalities?

Chair: Prof. Giles Mohan

Concept note: Prof. Mark Graham, Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Code, Content, and Control: Global Geographies of Digital Participation and Representation


Prof. Sarah Elwood, Professor of Geography, Centre for Studies in Demography and Ecology, University of Washington Seattle

Working the Cracks: Poverty Politics and the Digital

Valentina Carraro, Cartography and GIS assistant, Grassroots Jerusalem

Grassroots Mapping: Experiences from Occupied Jerusalem



Session 4: From ‘Impact’ to Interact – digital geography changes the game

How does the research process alter with and through digital technologies? How does interactivity make a difference to our research methods?

Chair: Dr Paul-Francois Tremlett

Concept note: Dr Joe Smith, Senior Lecturer in Environment, Department of Geography, Open University

Digital Worlds: Interactive Documentary as Geography


Anuradha Vittachi, Author, journalist and co-founder of the Hedgerley Wood Trust and

Saving Ms. Janaki: How can digital media serve social and environment justice?

Dr Mark Brandon, Reader in Polar Oceanography, Department of Environment, Earth & Ecosystems, Open University

Why I Tweet: What social media means for controversial environmental research



Plenary: Prof. Rob Kitchin

From a single line of code to an entire city: Reframing thinking on digital geographies 


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