The small voices of geographers-in-the-making: investigating an archive of undergraduate dissertations (1954-2014)

Bruinsma, Mette (2021) The small voices of geographers-in-the-making: investigating an archive of undergraduate dissertations (1954-2014). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis provides insights into the knowledge productions and research experiences of many generations of undergraduate geography students. One collection of undergraduate dissertations, ranging from 1954 to 2014, forms the empirical heart of this research. By taking an object-oriented approach, this one collection, from one discipline and one institution, is explored as a composite intellectual, social and cultural source. This research brings together questions from the fields of the history of geography, the history of higher education, and the sociology and geography of knowledge production. Historiographies of geography often emphasise the works of established geographers and generally overlook the many contributions of student-geographers, even though this latter group makes up the majority of the disciplinary community. By acknowledging these students’ first independent research projects, written down in undergraduate dissertations, the existing narrative about the history of geography is complemented, and partly reshaped, by these many ‘small’ knowledge productions of novice geographers. Besides this intellectual approach to the dissertation archive, this project focuses upon the social and spatial networks that student-geographers are working in and with, and how these networks sometimes offer opportunities, and other times challenges, for their knowledge production. Exploring the social and spatial elements of dissertation research demonstrates the ‘situatedness’ of knowledge productions, shining a light too on changing educational practices and traditions. With the undergraduate dissertation as a recognisable experience for many academics, the dissertations are furthermore researched here as cultural sources: as a significant ‘rite of passage’ within a transformation from ‘geographer-in-the-making’ to ‘real’, qualified geographer, a first and often formative encounter with doing independent research. Writing this disciplinary history ‘from below’ recognises and acknowledges the contributions of many geographers for three reasons: first, they are produced by an overlooked but central group in the geographical community; second, the rich archival collection of dissertations contains many excellent geographical knowledge productions that have remained barely read, until now; and third, there is a wish to encourage others to explore similar collections of student knowledge productions held elsewhere.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Philo, Professor Christopher and McGeachan, Dr. Cheryl
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82401
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2021 09:42
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2022 14:44
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82401

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