Spring semester kicks off

The holidays are over, the mince pies and yule log are (almost) all eaten, and the spring semester starts tomorrow.

I anticipate it will be very busy. I think I’ll be traveling less than the fall, though it looks like I’ll be giving a lecture at Emory at the end of the month to the Department of Environmental Studies. In February I’ll be at the AAG meetings in New York City and hopefully the Political Geography Preconference in Poughkeepsie. But since I’m actually teaching three courses this semester (GIS, Political Geography and a grad pro-seminar on preparing future faculty) I think I’ll have less time for trips.

I do want to continue our experiments with balloon and kite mapping that I’ve blogged about on here before. These were going quite well (at least until I popped our big balloon on a branch) and we some use of them in the intro GIS class. One possibility will be to acquire a small remote quadcopter, or so-called “people’s drone” or “occucopter.” The advantage of these is controlled flight. The disadvantage is less altitude (though I’m not sure what the actual limit is).

Maybe something like this one.

This unit could easily lift one of those HD sport cameras like the GoPro Hero2.


I also plan to get more article writing done. I’ve been doing a lot of chapters over the past couple of years and need to even out the balance a little bit. I’ve had some interesting discussions about this with colleagues here at UK, particularly Sue Roberts the Chair. Since my work is both historical and contemporary this raises the question of publishing strategy. I could do a paper on a 19th century Scottish theologian (which has cartography ties as well as relating to the ongoing science/religion debates–Kentucky of course has a “Creation Museum”). Or I could do one on geosurveillance and geointelligence. In this light I was inspired by the mini-manifesto Stuart Elden recently posted on being interdisciplinary:

If I had to take a label at all, I usually say that I do the history of ideas. I’ve done it in Politics departments; I now do it in a Geography department. It allows me – I think – to write on very contemporary issues such as the ‘war on terror’ in a way that is informed by transformations among concepts, or to work on Beowulf or Antigone. I see no reason why I shouldn’t work on Leibniz and Lebanon; Heidegger and hermaphrodites; Coriolanus and contingent sovereignty. Is this interdisciplinary? Transdisciplinary? Undisciplined? One of the good things about the position I’m in – and I fully recognise this is not the case for many people – is that I no longer need to care.

I actually don’t see this as undisciplined. I’m very glad to see that Stuart is not afraid to use the phrase “history of ideas” and I think that genuinely it does provide a tieup of a seemingly wide range of topics. Of course it invites the question the history of ideas…of what? In my case I usually say “of the political representation (or construction) of space.” A bit of an elevator pitch but sometimes it comes in handy when talking to people outside the discipline.

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