Biography

(c) Claire McNamee
Dr Jo Norcup. Photo by Claire McNamee.

I am an historical and cultural geographer whose interest centres on geographies of education, learning and knowledge-making. Informed by a range of feminist and intersectional ideas and approaches, I am particularly interested in vernacular, dissenting and transgressive practices, ideas, processes and productions and how these coalesce into performed knowledge-making that variously ruptures and recasts imagined and corporeal landscapes.

Current research areas include Public Library Geographies, DIY education publications & archives, popular culture (including TV comedy and crime fiction), vernacular nature and environmental knowledges (Green witches and cunning folk).

I am a post-doctoral honorary research fellow in historical and cultural geography in the Department of Geography, University of Glasgow. In the past, I have undertaken research into the disappearance of post-war working class landscapes in West Hampstead and in particular recovering the stories of working class women lives from four streets in NW6 (BA, RHUL(1995). I have also explored ideas of environmental sustainability, nature, Englishnesses, and geographies of dissent, transgression and resistance through (auto)ethnographic research an anti-roads protest (The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act and Newbury bypass roads protests 1995/1996 – MRes, RHUL(1998). My doctoral research focused on the recovery of the journal issues, correspondence archives, oral histories & biographies of a grassroots DIY critical leftist geography education journal series Contemporary Issues in Geography (CIGE) and Education (1983 – 1991) and the people and movement surrounding its publishing life (PhD, University of Glasgow).

I have taken time out of academia over the past 20 years and worked in a range of jobs including as a secondary school geography teacher, environmental conservation educator, gardener, carer, freelance education adviser, a whole array of retail, cleaning, administration and temp jobs (often multiple jobs while studying), as a supporting artiste for TV drama, and worked as a home tutor for a pupil referral unit.

In 2015, I founded Geography Workshop  a small-scale independent scholarly-informed creatively inspired production company to produce media and educational resources, and bespoke workshops, and field trips to ignite and inspire delegates and audiences to be curiously creative, to think, to listen, to learn and to facilitate the communication of stories, lives, people and places that might otherwise be overlooked.

*Geography Workshop Presents …. ‘Er Outdoors

Producing radio broadcasts to sounds, voices and versions of life otherwise ignored by mainstream media. Since 2016, working with Michael Umney at Resonance FM developing radio programmes broadcast by Resonance FM Clear Spot] and developing programme ideas for other broadcast companies (a programme based on ‘Er Outdoors is currently in pre-production for BBC Radio 4).

*CIGE afterlives and legacies: working across a range of educational, artistic and community initiatives to re-examine and engage with the materials, ideologies and ideas for emancipatory geography education, including the digitisation of the CIGE archive. in 2016, work with Alternative School of Economics with their season ‘The Rich as a Minority Group’ based on an essay by Anne Simpson published in issue 1.2 of CIGE in 1984 and used as a departure point to re-examine ideas in relation to post-global crash economics, resource access, geographies of austerity, and recasting of knowledge, ideas, landscapes and institutions. This included three weekends of public talks, Work with GCSE Sociology students including in class and field trip visits, an exhibition and the production of educative posters based on the essay.

2018 will see this uploading of the digitised PDF collection of CIGE as well as cross-platform publication plans by way of memorial to Dawn Gill, founder of CIGE who died at the end of 2017.

* Public Library Geographies Researching the historical and cultural geographies of Public Libraries and Geographies of Knowledge considers the pioneering work of public library advocates in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the regional and national campaigns in the UK that pioneered initiatives such as children’ libraries that led to the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. Across a range of scales, landscapes, sectors, and technologies, it explores the diverse intersectional geographies of the public library.

*ComedyGeographies – I am particularly keen to explore the intersections of comedy and geography. with a specific focus on popular culture and TV comedy, this research considers the geographies of comedy (and arguably the comedy of geography). Currently this includes working with Dr Innes Keighren (Royal Holloway) on Landscapes of Detectorists.

*Geographical instruments: I am interested in researching analogue technologies and instruments used to reproduce geographical knowledge in the 20th century (text, visual and sonic productions) and the cultural geographies of access to and use of such technologies. Currently this includes the development of an online exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1870 Education Act which secured Geography as a subject taught in schools the online exhibition of a range of ephemeral technologies will hopefully enable a physical exhibition in 2020.