Working the Archives: Methodological Challenges of Doing Historical Research in Geography 3

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Qualitative Research Specialty Group, Historical Geography Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Virginia B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Organizers: Christian Siener, Monica Varsanyi
Chairs: Briony McDonagh


Stuart Hall once remarked that “every new configuration contains masses of the old” (Akomfrah 2013). If we take this insight seriously then historical research is of the utmost importance, yet various methods remain understudied and new methodological challenges continue to arise. In this session we build on historical-geographical scholarship and methodological discussions published in various journals, including Historical Geography, Progress in Human Geography, and Area. Most recently, Geography Compass has launched a section on historical geography (Griffin 2018). Following this recent resurgence of interest in historical geography and historical methods in geographical research, and as a growing number of geographers have become captivated with the “allure of the archives” (Farge 1989 [2015]), this is a good moment to engage with methodological questions related to historical research in geography: is there a uniquely geographical approach to working in the archives and utilizing historical data? what would geographically-minded history look like? when we engage with historical methods, are we doing history or social science? to what degree can we establish causality using archival materials? is archival research inherently qualitative or can it be quantitative? what are the ethical concerns of using archival data? is historical geography a subfield or a methodological approach that spans subfields? can archives alone provide evidence robust enough for a convincing understanding of social change? and so forth. Papers in this session engage with these and related themes. We are specifically interested in the methodological challenges of doing historical and archival research in geography, and as geographers.

References Cited
Akomfrah, John. 2013. The Stuart Hall Project. Smoking Dog Films.
Farge, Arlette. 1989 [2015] The Allure of the Archives. Yale University Press.
Griffin, Paul. 2018. “Introductory Editorial: Historical Geography,” Geography Compass 12(9).


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Manuel Mendez*, Université de Rennes 2, Entanglements of space and time in mining territories of Northern Chile. Theoretical and methodological approaches in the study of water conflicts under the nitrate mining cycle (1853-1925) 15 5:00 PM
Presenter Kirsten Greer*, Nipissing University, Cary Mock*, University of South Carolina, Adam Csank, University of Nevada, Reno, Victoria Slonosky, Canadian Historical Data Rescue, McGill University, Simon Naylor , University of Glasgow, Historical Geographies of Extreme Weather Events: Using the Archives to Retrace the 1839 Hurricane in the British North Atlantic 15 5:15 PM
Presenter Rod Neumann*, Florida International University, Historical Political Ecology Meets Posthuman Political Ecology in the Archive 15 5:30 PM
Presenter Gregory Knapp*, University of Texas - Austin, Trajectories of Personal Archiving: Discovering, Preserving, and Making Available Diverse Data Resources in Faculty Research 15 5:45 PM
Presenter Richard Schein*, University Of Kentucky, Landscape as Archive 15 6:00 PM

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