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Richard C. Powell, BA, MA, PhD

Richard C. Powell, BA, MA, PhD

University Lecturer and Fellow of Fitzwilliam College

Cultural, Political and Historical Geographer with expertise in Polar Regions

Biography

Richard's research interests encompass historical and cultural geographies, the geopolitics of territory and resources, geographies of science, and the histories of the social and natural sciences. His fieldwork has focused on the Circumpolar Arctic (specifically Nunavut, Greenland and northern Norway), as well as Denmark, Canada, the US and the UK. He is about to commence a major, ERC-funded project on Arctic Cultures. Richard supervises a group of postgraduate and postdoctoral scholars, and always welcomes enquiries from prospective students related to any of the areas of research or themes discussed below. Prospective MPhil, PhD or Postdoctoral applicants are encouraged to contact Richard by email to discuss possible applications.

Richard is from Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Career

  • 2017 - present: University Lecturer, Department of Geography and Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
  • 2010 - 2017: Associate Professor, School of Geography and the Environment, and Tutorial Fellow, Mansfield College, University of Oxford
  • 2006 - 2010: Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Liverpool
  • 2005 - 2006: Simon Research Fellow, University of Manchester
  • 2004 - 2005: ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Cambridge

Qualifications

  • 1998: BA Geography, St. John's College, University of Oxford [Double First Class Honours]
  • 2000: MA Geography, University of British Columbia [Distinction]
  • 2004: PhD Geography, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge
  • 2008: PG Cert. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Liverpool

Awards

  • ERC Consolidator Grant (2016)
  • Gill Memorial Award (2013) for "research in historical and Polar Geography"
    Awarded by Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) for the encouragement of geographical researchers (within 10 years of their PhD) who have shown great potential
  • Teaching Excellence Award (2012), University of Oxford
  • Environment and Planning A Ashby Prize (2007)
    Awarded by EPA Editors for "most innovative article" of 154 published during 2007
  • RGS-IBG Area Prize (2002) for "best article by a new researcher"
  • H.O. Beckit Memorial Prize (1998) for best Undergraduate Dissertation, University of Oxford
  • Gibbs Book Prize (1998) for overall performance in Final Honour School, University of Oxford

Research

Richard's research has investigated the following themes:

Ethnographies of Arctic scientific practices

Richard has investigated the social practices involved in the constitution of the environmental sciences in the Canadian Arctic. This involved participant observation at polar field stations in the High Arctic. As well as demonstrating the geographies of scientific knowledge at the Polar Continental Shelf Program base at Resolute, Nunavut, this research also documented the politics of social interaction between Inuit and scientists, and the labour geographies of logistic personnel involved in field science. This work was supported by the ESRC, NERC, the International Council for Canadian Studies, the Foundation for Canadian Studies in the UK, the Dudley Stamp Memorial Trust, the British Association for Canadian Studies, and the University of Ottawa.

Political geographies of resource extraction in the Circumpolar Region

Richard has examined the political geographies of environmental changes and resource extraction in the Circumpolar Arctic and their policy implications for the UK. This research also speaks to broader questions about the role of Britain, and the European Union, in the High North. As part of this project, Richard undertook ethnography in Greenland, investigating the epistemic and political development of new hydrocarbon frontiers. This work was supported by the ESRC and the Research Councils' Energy Programme.

Polar Geopolitics and Governance

Richard convened an ESRC Seminar Series to investigate the geopolitics of the Polar Regions. This involved building an international network of social scientists to investigate changing models of polar governance. Through this process, a new generation of early career scholars were mentored as they began their polar research careers. This research has created a number of impact activities with NGOs and government departments and other institutions. Given this expertise, Richard is regularly consulted by policy-makers and the media in the UK, Europe and North America about the future of the Polar Regions. This work was supported by the ESRC and the RCUK/ESRC Global Uncertainties Programme.

Histories of the geographical sciences

Richard has always been interested in the histories of the geographical sciences, and the relations between disciplines. He wrote the Progress Reports on these themes for Progress in Human Geography and completed two terms as Chair of the History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (of the RGS-IBG), where he previously served as Secretary and Postgraduate Liaison Officer. Recently, he has been examining the importance, since the late nineteenth century, of Arctic societies and environments in the growth of geographical thought. This has resulted in a number of projects about the history of science and exploration in Greenland and their relationship to themes in the geographical imaginary, as well as wider projects about the definition of canonicity in geography and the delineation of geographical areas. This work has been supported by the British Academy, the AHRC, the Leverhulme Trust, the American Philosophical Society and the John Fell Fund.

The constitution of the geo and the relations between its disciplines

For the past decade or so, Richard has investigated the relations between the geographical sciences and disciplinary understandings of the geo during the twentieth century. During 2016, he took up tenure of an Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) Mid-Career Fellowship, 'Environment in the geopolitical imagination? Knowledge formations in Geopolitics, International Relations and Geography after 1945'. He was also awarded an ISRF Residential Research Group grant to convene an advanced, innovative, interdisciplinary workshop, 'New Earth Thinking? Investigations of the Geo across the Social Sciences' at Girton College, Cambridge in August 2016.

Arctic Peoples and Cultures

In December 2016, Richard was awarded a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant for 'ARCTIC CULT - Arctic Cultures: Sites of Collection in the Formation of the European and American Northlands', 2017-22. This five-year project involves research by Richard, four Post Doctoral Researchers and a Project Assistant at museums, archives, libraries and repositories across Europe and North America, as well as in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. It brings repositories in colonial metropoles into dialogue with sites of collection in the Arctic by tracing the contexts of discovery and memorialisation. In doing so, it aspires to a new understanding of the consequences of forms of colonial representation for debates about the Circumpolar Arctic today. This project will attract a number of new researchers to join the HCEP group at SPRI, and we welcome enquiries about this and all related projects.

Selection of current and recent research grants (all as PI)

  • ARCTIC CULT - Arctic Cultures: Sites of Collection in the Formation of the European and American Northlands
    Funding: European Research Council, Consolidator Grant, €1,996,250 (2017-22)
  • New Earth thinking? Investigations of the Geo across the social sciences
    Funding: Independent Social Research Foundation Residential Research Groups, £10,000 (2016)
  • Environment in the geopolitical imagination? Knowledge formations in Geopolitics, International Relations and Geography after 1945
    Funding: Independent Social Research Foundation Mid-Career Fellowship, £59,967 (2016)
  • Holistic Greenland? Science, politics and a geographical imagination
    Funding: Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, £44,824 (2015)
  • International networks and cosmopolitan science: Geographical Societies and Greenland, c.1880 to 1939
    Funding: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Collaborative Doctoral Studentship (Partner: Royal Geographical Society), £57,597 (2015-18)
  • Towards an historical geography of Arctic exceptionality: Franz Boas, Knud Rasmussen and geographical practice
    Funding: British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant, £9,900 (2014-15)
  • Greenland and theories of environment and society: a scoping study of the archives
    Funding: John Fell OUP Research Fund Grant, £7,450 (2013-14)
  • Impacts of Polar Geopolitics for UK Policy in the Arctic and Antarctic
    Funding: RCUK/ESRC Global Uncertainties Impact Support Grant, £5,000 (2013)
  • The Geographical Canon?
    Funding: Royal Geographical Society, £500, and HPGRG, £500 (2012)
  • Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes: the New Geopolitics of the Polar Regions
    Funding: ESRC Seminar Series, £17,949 (2010-11)
  • Opening the Collections at the RGS-IBG
    Funding: Royal Geographical Society, £800 (2009)
  • The Socio-political, Environmental and Technological implications of Climatic Changes in the Circumpolar Arctic for UK Energy Security
    Funding: ESRC/RCEP Interdisciplinary Early Career Research Fellowship, £336,155 (2007-10)

Visiting positions

  • Honorary Research Associate, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, 2017-19
  • Visiting Researcher, National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, April 2014.
  • Visiting Researcher, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, February 2009
  • Stage international de recherche (International Visiting Scholar), Institut d'études canadiennes, L'Université d'Ottawa, May 2005
  • Stage international de recherche (International Visiting Scholar), Institut d'études canadiennes, L'Université d'Ottawa, July-August 2003

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Kärg Kama, ESRC Future Research Leader: Geo-logics and Geo-politics: The Collective Governance of European Shale Gas Development, University of Oxford, 2016-18
  • Andrew Foxall, ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow: The Geopolitics of Ethnic Relations in Russia, University of Oxford, 2012-13

Current PhD/DPhil students

  • Peter Martin, University of Oxford: International networks and cosmopolitan science: Geographical Societies and Greenland, c.1880 to 1939
  • Kevin Rattue, University of Oxford: Emergent environmental risks and the governance of the Northwest Passage
  • Nina Doering, University of Oxford: Local participation and democracy in Greenland's emerging minerals industry
  • Serkan Birgel, University of Oxford: The geopolitics of natural resources in post-conflict environments
  • Brice Perombelon, University of Oxford: Geopolitical Arctic(s): Prioritizing indigenous representations of geo-power and the case of the Sahtu Dene, Canada
  • Michael Dangerfield, University of Oxford: Urban Greenland: a spatial analysis of Nuuk's evolving labour market

Recent PhD/DPhil/MPhil students

  • Thomas Turnbull, DPhil, University of Oxford: From Paradox to Policy: the problem of Energy Resource Conservation in Britain and America, 1865-1981 (2017)
  • Rachael Tily, DPhil, University of Oxford: Space, research objects, and interdisciplinarity in geomorphological inquiry (2017)
  • Su-Chuin Soon, PhD, University of Liverpool: First generation Chinese migrants and their association with the development of Liverpool's Chinatown (2013)
  • Nina Doering, MPhil Development Studies, University of Oxford: Local perceptions of large-scale economic projects in Disko Bay, Greenland (2013)

Publications

Books

  • Powell, R.C., 2017. Studying Arctic Fields: Cultures, Practices, and Environmental Sciences McGill-Queen's University Press: Montreal, QC, Kingston, ON, Ithaca, NY and London.
  • Powell, R.C. and Dodds, K. (eds.), 2014. Polar Geopolitics? Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes Edward Elgar: Cheltenham and Northampton, MA.

Journal articles

2017

  • Powell, R.C., 2017. Fin de siècle disciplinarity and the 'natural region' Political Geography 57 95-96.
  • Powell, R.C. and Klinke, I., 2017. Introduction: Political geographies of 'area' Political Geography 57 94-95.
  • Powell, R.C., Klinke, I., Jazeel, T., Daley, P., Kamata, N., Heffernan, M., Swain, A., McConnell, F., Barry, A. and Phillips, R., 2017. Interventions in the Political Geographies of 'Area' Political Geography 57 94-104.

2015

  • Powell, R.C., 2015. History and philosophy of geography III: Charting the Anabasis? Progress in Human Geography 39(6) 827-843.
  • Powell, R.C. and Wilson, R.M. 2015. What futures for the pillar of geography? A Report on the 16th International Conference of Historical Geographers Historical Geography 43 1-4.
  • Powell, R.C., 2015. Geography and politics redux? Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 40(4) 596-602.
  • Powell, R.C., 2015. The study of geography? Franz Boas and his canonical returns. Journal of Historical Geography 49 21-30.
  • Powell, R.C., 2015. Notes on a geographical canon? Measures, models and scholarly enterprise. Journal of Historical Geography 49 2-8.
  • Powell, R.C., 2015. History and philosophy of geography II: The future history of the geographical propaedeutic? Progress in Human Geography 39(4) 486-496.

2013

  • Powell, R.C., 2013. Subarctic backyards? Britain, Scotland and the paradoxical politics of the European High North. Northern Review 37 (Fall 2013) 87-100.
  • Dodds, K. and Powell, R.C. 2013. The Arctic Policy Framework and beyond: The UK as a Polar Actor. RUSI Newsbrief 33(6) 24-26.
  • Dodds, K. and Powell, R.C. 2013. Polar Geopolitics: new researchers on the Polar Regions. Polar Journal 3(1) 1-8.

2010

  • Powell, R.C. and Dodds, K., 2010. Note: Knowledges, resources and legal regimes: the new geopolitics of the Polar Regions. Polar Record 46(4) 375-376.
  • Powell, R.C., 2010. Lines of possession? The anxious constitution of a Polar geopolitics. Political Geography 29(2) 74-77.

2008

  • Powell, R.C., 2008. Becoming a geographical scientist: oral histories of Arctic fieldwork. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 33(4) 548-565. [selected for reprinting in G. Bridge (ed.) (2015) 'Historical Geography', Virtual Issue, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers; and selected for reprinting in G. Davies (ed.) (2009) 'The Geographies of Knowledge', Virtual Issue, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers].
  • Powell, R.C., 2008. Science, sovereignty and nation: Canada and the legacy of the International Geophysical Year 1957-58. Journal of Historical Geography 34(4) 618-638.
  • Powell, R.C., 2008. Guest Editorial: Configuring an 'Arctic Commons'? Political Geography 27(8) 827-832.
  • Powell, R.C., 2008. Winners of the Ashby Prizes. Environment and Planning A 40(6) 1269-1270.

2007

  • Powell, R.C. 2007. "The rigours of an Arctic experiment": the precarious authority of field practices in the Canadian High Arctic, 1958-1970. Environment and Planning A 39(8) 1794-1811. [awarded EPA Ashby Prize 2007; selected for reprinting in D. Gregory and N. Castree (eds.) (2012) Human Geography Sage: Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC].
  • Powell, R.C. 2007. Geographies of science: histories, localities, practices, futures Progress in Human Geography 31(3) 309-329.
  • Powell, R.C. and Vasudevan, A., 2007. Geographies of experiment. Environment and Planning A 39(8) 1790-1793.
  • Powell, R.C. 2007. Placing race in Liverpool. Antipode 39(2) 355-357.

2006

  • Powell, R.C. 2006. Intemperate spaces: field practices and environmental science in the Canadian Arctic, 1955-2000 (PhD Abstract). Social and Cultural Geography 7(4) 677.
  • Powell, R.C. 2006. Panelist discussion: The landscape of historical geography in the 21st century. Past Place: Newsletter of the Historical Geography Specialty Group, AAG 14(1), Fall/Winter, 6.

2005

  • Powell, R.C. 2005. Northern cultures: myths, geographies, and representational practices. Cultural Geographies 12(3) 371-378.

2002

  • Powell, R.C. 2002. The Sirens' voices? Field practices and dialogue in geography. Area 34(3) 261-272 [awarded Area Prize 2002].
  • Richards, K., Watson, E., Bulkeley, H. and Powell, R.C., 2002. Some ideas and reflections on teaching 'ideas' in Geography. Journal of Geography in Higher Education 26(1) 33-47.
  • Powell, R.C. 2002. Putting philosophies of geography into practice: conference report History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group Newsletter (July 2002) 12-13

2000

  • Barnes, T., Horner, G., Murphy, A., Pang, X., Powell, R.C., Rempel, G., Richardson, K., Vasudevan, A. and Winders, J. 2000. Capital Culture: a review essay. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 18(2) 275-278.

Book chapters

  • Powell, R.C., 2016. Institutions, resources and the governance of postcolonial Greenland, in Jones, H., Bowles, N. and Berry, D. (eds.) Governance in the North American Arctic, Palgrave Macmillan: London and New York, pp. 200-216.
  • Powell, R.C., 2014. Polar Geopolitics, in Powell, R.C. and Dodds, K. (eds.) Polar Geopolitics? Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham and Northampton, MA, pp. 3-18.
  • Powell, R.C., 2011. From the Northern Dimension to Arctic Strategies? The European Union's envisioning of the High Latitudes, in Bialasiewicz, L. (ed.) Europe in the World: EU Geopolitics and the Making of European Space, Ashgate: Farnham and Burlington VT, pp.105-126.
  • Powell, R.C., 2009. Learning from spaces of play: Recording emotional practices in High Arctic environmental sciences, in Smith, M., Davidson, J., Cameron, L. and Bondi, L. (eds.) Emotion, Place and Culture, Ashgate: Farnham and Burlington VT, pp.115-132.
  • Powell, R.C., 2009. Canada Day in Resolute: performance, ritual, and the nation in an Inuit community, in Cosgrove, D. and della Dora, V. (eds.) High Places: Cultural Geographies of Mountains, Ice and Science, I.B. Tauris: London and New York, pp.178-195.
  • Powell, R.C., 2005. Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP), in Nuttall, M (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Arctic, 3 Vols., Routledge: New York, pp.1658-1659.
  • Powell, R.C., 2005. Resolute Base, in Nuttall, M. (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Arctic, 3 Vols., Routledge: New York, pp.1760-1761.

Reports and other publications

  • Powell, R.C., 2014. Supplementary written evidence, House of Lords Select Committee on the Arctic, Available at: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/arctic-committee/arctic/written/14298.html (Published 6 November).
  • Powell, R.C., 2008. The geopolitics of energy insecurity: the challenges of Arctic hydrocarbons for UK policy, Proceedings of 7th BIEE (British Institute of Energy Economics) Academic Conference: The New Energy Challenge: Security and Sustainability.

Book reviews

  • Powell, R.C., 2015. Review of Tracie Lea Scott 'Postcolonial Sovereignty? The Nisaga'a Final Agreement'. British Journal of Canadian Studies 28(1) 134.
  • Powell, R.C., 2013. Review of Charles W.J. Withers 'Geography and science in Britain, 1831-1939: A study of the British Association for the Advancement of Science'. Progress in Human Geography 37(6) 856-858.
  • Powell, R.C., 2012. Review of Graeme Wynn 'Canada and Arctic North America: an environmental history'. Journal of Historical Geography 38(4) 480-481.
  • Powell, R.C., 2009. Review of Michael F. Robinson 'The Coldest Crucible: Arctic exploration and American culture'. Journal of Historical Geography 35(1) 189-191.
  • Powell, R.C., 2007. Review of F. Driver and L. Martins (eds.) 'Tropical visions in an age of empire' Progress in Human Geography 31(3) 410-412.
  • Powell, R.C., 2006. Review of R.D. Craib 'Cartographic Mexico: a history of state fixations and fugitive landscapes'. Progress in Human Geography 30(6) 823-825.
  • Powell, R.C., 2006. Review of R. McGhee 'The last imaginary place: a human history of the Arctic world'. Canadian Historical Review 87(2) 332-334.
  • Powell, R.C., 2006 Peculiar geographies of the Arctic and the Afterlife [Essay Review of D. Chapin 'Exploring other worlds: Margaret Fox, Elisha Kent Kane, and the Antebellum culture of curiosity']. H-HistGeog, March 2006, www.h-net.msu.edu/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=176771144162324.
  • Powell, R.C., 2005. Review of A. Blunt, P. Gruffudd, J. May, M. Ogborn and D. Pinder (eds.) 'Cultural geography in practice'. Progress in Human Geography 29(4) 524-526.
  • Powell, R.C., 2005. Review of S.D. Grant 'Arctic justice: on trial for murder, Pond Inlet, 1923'. British Journal of Canadian Studies 18(1) 174-175.
  • Powell, R.C., 2001. Review of J. Cruikshank 'The social life of stories: narrative and knowledge in the Yukon Territory'. Journal of Historical Geography 27(2) 303-305.
  • Powell, R.C., 2000. Review of D. Clayton 'Islands of truth: the imperial fashioning of Vancouver Island'. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 18(5) 659-661.

Teaching

  • Geography Tripos Part IB, Paper 1: Producing Geography
  • Geography Tripos Part IB: Copenhagen Fieldclass
  • Geography Tripos Part II, Paper 2: Geographies of the Arctic
  • MPhil in Polar Studies
  • College Lecturer, Fitzwilliam College

External activities

  • UK Arctic and Antarctic Partnership Steering Committee, 2017-20
  • House of Lords Select Committee on the Arctic, 2014
  • Chair, RGS-IBG History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group Committee, 2007-14
  • Secretary, RGS-IBG History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group Committee, 2004-07
  • ESRC, AHRC and RGS (with IBG) International Benchmarking Review of UK Human Geography, 2012
  • ESRC Peer Review College, 2010-15
  • Editorial Board, Transactions of the Institute of the British Geographers, 2013-16
  • Editorial Board, Historical Geography, 2014-19