Oxford Minds Panel Discussion - Space: How is society being geographically reconfigured?

The series

This term’s series explores social science’s big concepts. It examines the contested meaning and diverse application of some of the theoretical ideas that unify and challenge social scientists. It brings together the bright minds of Oxford, and high profile external speakers, to consider the range of ways in which we can think about ‘power’, ‘space’, ‘identity’, and ‘belonging’.

The concept of ‘space’ is the central concept of Geography, and has been widely adopted across the social sciences. But what does it mean? How is it changing? And how should it be understood? This panel examines spaces from three different perspectives, encompassing gender, nature, and urbanisation.

Gillian Rose is Professor of Human Geography and Head of the School of Geography and the Environment. Gillian is a cultural geographer; although her empirical research interests have shifted over time, she has long been concerned with the politics of knowledge production. Her first book, Feminism and Geography: The Limits to Geographical Knowledge (1993) is one of the foundational texts of feminist geography. Much of subsequent research focuses on visual culture and methodology. In 2015 she was elected a fellow of the British Academy, and in 2018 became a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. Her more recent work has explored the visual mediation of urban spaces, particularly by digital technologies.

Laura Rival is Professor of Anthropology of Development in the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID). Her research lies at the intersection of nature, society and development. Empirically, her work is grounded in ethnographic research with the Huaorani (Ecuadorian Amazon), inter-disciplinary research with the Makushi (central Guyana), and policy-oriented research with a number of Latin American indigenous and peasant communities, both in Central and South America. Theoretically, she has engaged critically with a range of deterministic assumptions associated with modernist ideologies, including theories that reify the nature/culture divide. Her current research builds on this expertise to address burning issues of development in the face of severe environmental degradation and accelerating climate change. Her published work includes Huaorani transformations in 21st century Ecuador. Treks into the future of time (University of Arizona Press).

Michael Keith is Professor at the Centre for Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford, Director of the PEAK Urban Research programme, co-ordinator of Urban Transformations (The ESRC portfolio of investments and research on cities), and co-Director of the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities. He was the Director of COMPAS until October 2019, a position that he held for over a decade but has stepped down from until 2023 to focus on the PEAK Urban programme. His research focuses on migration related processes of urban change. His most recent books include China Constructing Capitalism: Economic Life and Urban Change (2014) and Urban transformations and public health in the emergent city (Manchester University Press, 2020). He has experience outside the academy working in the community and voluntary sector and as a politician for twenty years in the East End of London.