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© Polina de Mauny

Winged Geographies:

Birds in Space and Imagination

22 - 23 April 2021

Department of Geography

University of Cambridge


Winged Geographies is a two-days academic workshop which addresses the question of our evolving spatial relationships with bird life. The presence of birds and their song has long shaped human experience and conceptualisation of the skies, the countryside as well as urban and domestic environments.


Birds have been collected, traded and re-contextualised across territories. Their migrations have inspired new kinds of human connections, both psychic and physical. How have birds been part of human efforts to make sense of terrestrial and avian spaces and places? Such a question implicates all kinds of actors: gardeners, scholars, pilots, naturalists, children, writers and philosophers. Aristophanes’ play The Birds saw two frustrated Athenians join with the birds to build a utopian city in the clouds, a new republic where ‘Wisdom, Grace and Love pervade the scene’. Steven Feld’s work with the Kaluli people of Papua New Guinea showed that the avian voices heard in the forest defined an entire cultural and spiritual realm. Today, birds increasingly draw attention as indicators of environmental crisis. In the Anthropocene, are the much-loved imaginative and metaphorical readings of bird life still culturally productive or dangerously retrograde?

Key Speakers




Assistant Professor of Music in the Arts, Culture, & Media program at Rugters University in Newark, USA

Rachel Mundy specializes in twentieth-century sonic culture with interests at the juncture of music, the history of science, and animal studies. Her research shows how music has been used to navigate changing boundaries between race, species, and culture in the twentieth century.



Professor of History at the University of Stavanger, Norway.

Dolly is most interested in how human technologies shape the world around us and how we come to understand what is "natural" and what is not, what is acceptable environmental behavior and what is not. Her research spans from medieval to contemporary environmental issues. Her primary areas of interest are human-animal relations, the urban environment, and environmental policymaking.




Theatre Maker, UK

Tom is a theatre maker based in Bristol. He creates work through award-winning theatre company, MECHANIMAL.


The company’s work presently focuses on exploring narratives of biology and climate change. 

At Winged Geographies Tom will be presenting Zugunruhe, a show exploring the incredible migration journey of a marsh warbler. The performance received a Herald Angel award for excellence at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018.

Department of Geography
University of Cambridge
Downing Place


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