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Geographers awarded British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships

  • Date18 April 2018

Geographers awarded British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships are made to an annual cohort of outstanding Early Career Scholars in the humanities and social sciences to support a significant piece of research leading to publication over a period of three years.

Dr Laurie Parsons will carry out a research project on ‘Climate Mobilities: Linking Climate Vulnerability and Cultural Change in Translocal Cambodia.’

Dr Cecilie Sachs Olsen will be researching ‘Arts for urban change: negotiating the possibilities and practices of participatory art in urban development.’

The British Academy has awarded a record 85 Postdoctoral Fellowships to outstanding early-career scholars in April 2018, an unprecedented two-thirds (64%) of whom are women. More awards have been made thanks to a £10m boost in funding from the government’s Global Talent Fund for an extra 40 fellowships, enabling the British Academy to make the most awards in the scheme’s 30-year history.

Head of Geography, Professor Katie Willis said:

"We are delighted that the British Academy has recognised the outstanding research contributions of Royal Holloway’s geographers through their Postdoctoral Fellowships. Awards like these reinforce our international reputation for advancing understanding of the challenges facing contemporary culture, the economy and the environment.”

Read more about the award winning research projects at the Department of Geography below:

Dr Laurie Parsons - Climate Mobilities: Linking Climate Vulnerability and Cultural Change in Translocal Cambodia

The United Nations describes climate change as a ‘global challenge’ which is ‘disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow’. The relationship between climate change, livelihood impacts, and migration remains understudied, however. This research contributes to a better understanding of ‘climate mobilities’ and is original in bringing together perspectives from socio-ecological systems and a growing mobilities literature that highlights the role of cultural norms, attitudes and practices in shaping peoples’ movement. Focusing on construction workers in Cambodia, one of the world's most climate-vulnerable countries, this project uses in-depth interviews, quantitative livelihoods surveys, and social network mapping to explore how differential climate pressures drive not only economic inequalities, but cultural ones also. Dr Parsons will produce the monograph Climate Mobilities and other project outputs that engage with inter-disciplinary academic audiences and policymakers both within and beyond Cambodia.

Dr Cecilie Sachs Olsen - Arts for urban change: negotiating the possibilities and practices of participatory art in urban development

From crises in housing and public space, to social unrest due to austerity measures, the current era of urban upheaval values arts practices as a crucial creative means of empowerment in the midst of urban planning and redevelopment processes. Yet key challenges relating to issues of participation and representation hamper our understanding and the negotiation of the place of arts within urban processes. Focusing on participatory art wherein artists develop collaborations with communities and other stakeholders, this innovative research combines geography and art practice to seize these challenges and to develop a toolkit for integrating artistic practices into urban development. Analysing four European case studies, and also her own artwork, Dr Sachs OlsenI will examine the entanglements of artistic practice with local communities and urban planners/developers. Outputs will include participatory art works; publications directed at geographers, urban studies and arts scholars; participatory stakeholder workshops to refine the toolkit; toolkit briefing documents and an international conference.



The British Academy is the voice of humanities and social sciences. The Academy is an independent fellowship of world-leading scholars and researchers; a funding body for research, nationally and internationally; and a forum for debate and engagement. 

The Department of Geography at Royal Holloway is a leading UK centre for geographical research and teaching. Find out more about study opportunities here

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