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Anniversary Essays - Forty Years of Geography at Maynooth. Volume 1 & 2
The following collection of ‘Anniversar y Essays’ is an odd mix. But yet, looking through it, I find its oddness perfectly appropriate, because isn’t geography – the discipline and the subject matter – precisely that? Space is, as many of these essays explicit ly or implicitly highlight, a crazy mixture of thrown together objects, forces and ideas. And it’s this fact of geography that gives me heart when I flick through the following essays and think of them as representing what scholars and researchers and teachers in Maynooth’s Department of Geography have done over the last four decades. Sure, we’ve done more than what this collection captures, and there’s no doubt we’ll continue to do amazing things, but at this juncture, in our 40 th year, I believe this collection is a wonderful transect through the department’s development and a unique testimony to its intellectual vibrancy. All along the transect, we are exposed to the wide variety of research questions addressed by geographers in Maynooth; questions about colonialism, health, climate, memory, place, migration, water, religion, identity, inward investment, and technology, and much more besides. An odd mix, yes, but a productive one, too. We also get to see developments and changes in the de partment as a place. In the first few chapters, for example, we see signs of the department’s early life as a centre for the study of Ireland’s historical geography, as well as a burgeoning location for the study of climate, medical and economic geography. Then, as the collection progresses, we discern a whole set of new issues tackled, including urban and technological change, adaptation to climate change, identity, planni ng, embodiment, and the politics and economics of Ireland’s changing circumstances. I think it fair to say that the collectio n also offers a unique opportunity to examine the breadth and richness of our discipline. The essays reflect many of the various ways of thinking about and doing geography. We see, for instance, that geography is about physical and social processes, about climate and class, say; and that geography is about using a range of methods, from remote sensing to ethnography. We also see examples of how scholars in the department ha ve engaged theoretically with the discipline by drawing from and seeking to contribute to what we know about physical geography, climate change studies, feminist theory, Marxism, post-structuralism, and the world of policy-makers. From their base in Maynooth, geographers in the Department have helped to develop broader understanding of key issues in the discipline, often by making significant key contributions to geographical knowledge. Long may that continue. The collection lying before you truly is a unique heritage document, which demonstrates what scholarship in one Irish academic department can achieve over a forty-year span. In this sense it has value. But I believe the collection has wider resonance. For students of the history and philosophy of science in general, and geography in particular, the collection is a landmark contribution. There is plenty of scope to imagine how it might be used to learn about the Irish geography community and how it has grown and changed in the last forty years. I also hope the collection might be used by under- and post-graduate students as an entry point into learning to understand this odd discipline, but also this fantastic department. For example, it is striking how, just as the last five years or so have seen huge changes in the department, we also see in the latter chapters of the collection a wide range of new patterns take shape, such as the internationalization of the department’s research foci and publishing venues; the expression of engaged scholarship regarding contemporary issues in Ireland and beyond; new publishing strategies, including the use of blogs; and new strengths in established areas of the department’s research activities such as climate change. There have been important developments in academic geography in the last few years, not just in Ireland; this sort of coll ection should help piece together explanations for what has happened and why. In sum, then, the collection effectively captures geography’s odd mix and some of Maynooth’s role in its creation. It is at once a celebration of Geography in Maynooth and an opportunity to glimpse the department’s richness, its diversity, and breadth. I hope you agree.
Keyword(s): Geography; Anniversary Essays; Maynooth; Geography
Publication Date:
Type: Book
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Contributor(s): Fraser, Alistair
Institution: Maynooth University
Citation(s): Fraser, Alistair, ed. (2012) Anniversary Essays - Forty Years of Geography at Maynooth. Volume 1 & 2. National University of Ireland Maynooth. ISBN 9780992746605
Publisher(s): National University of Ireland Maynooth
File Format(s): other
Related Link(s):,
First Indexed: 2014-12-06 05:17:21 Last Updated: 2015-03-23 05:04:10