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Keynote speakers

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Eric Clark is Professor of Human Geography at Lund University, and affiliated with the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies, he is currently involved in five research programmes. He is Elected Member of the Royal Society of Letters in Lund. Clark initiated and took the lead in organising the Inaugural Nordic Geographers Meeting in Lund in 2005. His research interests include political economy of space and social geographic change, especially land rent as underlying force behind gentrification, financialisation of built environments, land grabbing, and related processes of accumulation by dispossession; biocultural coevolution; political ecology of islands; and all of the above in relation to (in)equality and sustainability. His work relates to all three of the conference themes: connections between nature and imagination, climate issues, and culture contacts between East and West. His keynote is titled Imagining cultural economic alternatives to financialisation.

Matthew Gandy is Professor of Geography and was Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory from 2005-2011. His publications include Concrete and clay: reworking nature in New York City (2002), The acoustic city (2014, co-editor), and The fabric of space: water, modernity, and the urban imagination (2014), along with articles in Architectural Design, New Left Review, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Society and Space and many others. He is currently researching the interface between cultural and scientific aspects to urban bio-diversity reflected in his lecture about urban nature titled From urban ecology to ecological urbanism: an ambiguous trajectory.

Steve Hinchliffe is an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and author and editor of numerous books and articles on issues ranging from risk and food, to biosecurity, urban ecologies and nature conservation. His research draws together insights from Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Geography. He is currently working on a monograph called Pathological Lives and a co-edited collection called Sentient Creatures. His lecture is titled The micro-cene: the cosmopolitics of losing self-assurance.

Hans Joosten, one of the most prominent wetland researchers and wetland conservation activists in the world, is professor of Peatland Studies and Palaeoecology at the University of Greifswald, Germany. His approaches to peatlands include palaeoecology (palynology, macro-fossil analysis, geochemistry), ecology (bio indicators, peat formation and accumulation), landscape ecology, nature conservation and their wise use (peatland ecosystem services, paludiculture). His research group has worked in a geographically wide scope of settings in Europe, Georgia (Transcaucasia), Russia (Yakutia, West-Siberia), China (Tibet, Altai, Jilin), Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, Iran, Senegal/Mauritania, and Tierra del Fuego (Argentina). Hans Joosten is Secretary-General of the International Mire Conservation Group (www.imcg.net) and has recently become involved in the negotiations within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. He is also active in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, especially in developing its guidelines for reporting on organic soils. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee and author of the UNESCO-SCOPE Rapid Assessment Project on the benefits of soil carbon. His keynote lecture will focus on the past, present and perspectives of world peatlands.

Mihkel Kangur is the President of Estonian Geographical Society and Director of the Institute of Ecology at Tallinn University. His research has focused on vegetation history and human-environmental interactions over the last millennia applying an human ecology approach to seek answers to questions about sustainability. He will introduce the conference and talk on Geographical imagination and challenges of geography in the 21st century.

David Livingstone is Professor of Geography and Intellectual History at Queen’s University, Belfast, UK. He currently holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to write a topical history of climatic determinism under the title The Empire of Climate. What animates this project is the way in which climate is routinely portrayed as a prime mover in matters of health, wealth, war, cultural collapse, human evolution and the like. This inclination towards what might be called climate reductionism is both deep and lasting, and the aim is to develop a critical genealogy of the ways in which causal agency has been attributed climate as a historical force. He has entitled his talk A matter of degree: the climate of historical explanation.

Karen O'Brien is Professor at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo, Norway. She works on issues related to global environmental change, globalisation, vulnerability, climate change adaptation, and human security. She is particularly interested in how societies both create and respond to change. Her research explores the ways that processes such as climate change, biodiversity loss and other large-scale environmental transformations interact with other global processes to exacerbate inequity, increase vulnerability and undermine sustainability. Karen O’Brien leads the PLAN project on Responding to Climate Change: The Potentials of and Limits to Adaptation in Norway, and was also a Lead Author on the adaptation chapter for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report. Her lecture is titled Responding to climate change: is it time for a quantum leap?

Charles W.J. Withers is Ogilvie Chair of Geography at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include the historical geographies of science; geography, travel, and exploration; geography and the Enlightenment; and the history of cartography. Amongst other books, he is the author of Placing the Enlightenment: Thinking Geographically About the Age of Reason (2007) and of Geography and Science in Britain 1831-1939 (2010). Current projects include a study of the connections between exploration, writing, and publishing in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: his co-authored book Travels into Print: Exploration, Writing, and Publishing with the House of Murray 1773-1859 will be published in Spring 2015. He is also working on the historical geography of the Prime Meridian and on the connections between geography, technology, and instruments of exploration. Drawing from this and other work, his keynote Practising geography in an age of wonder and empire: exploration, instrumentation, publication, c.1780-c.1880 will outline the several ways in which the discipline and subject of geography has been dependent upon different notions of 'exploration', and will discuss the opportunities and methodological questions raised by geography's engagement with the history of science, the history of technology, and book history.