Roy Jones’ Letter from Perth (the other one)

Visiting Professor Roy Jones keeps us up to date on his recent work …

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Those of you who read the recent ‘Iain Robertson Down Under’ blog will know that  my appointment as Visiting Professor at UOG has been extended for three more years. As an historical geographer, I am really pleased that, simultaneously, I am an Emeritus Professor of Geography at Curtin University in Perth and a Visiting Professor of History at UOG. I agree with John Smith (yes, the John Smith in the Disney Pocahontas film) who, in 1624, summed up the link between the two disciplines very well in “The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles” (the full title is so long it would take up the whole blog) when he argued “for as Geography without History seemeth a carkasse without motion so History without Geography wandreth as a Vagrant without a certaine habitation.”

Iain and I put the two disciplines together during his time in Australia at the Critical Heritage Studies Conference in Canberra and on his visiting fellowship at Curtin and we will continue to do so in 2015. Together with Carl Griffin from the University of Sussex, we are convening two sessions on “Environments of Heritage” at the International Conference of Historical Geographers at the Royal Geographical Society in London. I will also give a paper in a session on “Historical Geographies of Pollution, Toxicity and Waste”  on the changing uses and reputation of the laneways in my suburb of Perth. These were put in along the back of the houses a century ago to allow the ‘dunny men’ and their horses and carts  to access and empty the ‘dunnies’ (outside toilets). Their already bad reputation worsened as they became somewhere to dump rubbish and a place where children and other undesirable elements could get up to no good.  With the coming of mains sewerage and mass car ownership, however,  these back lanes have become an asset and multi car garages, guest houses and even new dwellings are being built fronting the old laneways.

Attendance at the conference should also give me an opportunity to take my vagrant carkasse to my other habitation and catch up with colleagues in Cheltenham.

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