We’re pleased to welcome you to our seminar programme. This year we’ve moved online and the seminars will be held via Zoom.
Please contact Olga via to register and we will send out the details of how to join the seminar a few days in advance.
6th May 2021
Conviviality & Companionship. Parrots and People in the African Forest
Brown University, USA
The Seminar will be held at 4 pm GTM
Nancy Jacobs is a professor of history at Brown University, a specialist in the colonial history of Africa, and an environmental and animal historian. Her research looks at the interspecies relationships involved in the working out of colonial power in African societies. Her book Birders of Africa: History of a Network was published by Yale University in 2016.
This event is sponsored by Vital Geographies Research Group, Geography Department, Cambridge University.
25th June 2021
Digital winged geographies: Peregrine nestcams in the wild city
Jonathon Turnbull, Adam Searle, and Bill Adams
The Seminar will be held at 3 pm BST.
This seminar will examine how human-bird relationships take place in digital space, and how these interactions inform alternative visions of the city. After nearing extinction in the late 1970s, Peregrine falcons have adapted to urban ecosystems, becoming a UK conservation success story. Entangled with this recent environmental history is a tale of technological development. From single images refreshed every 30 seconds to high-definition livestreamed audio-visual footage of peregrine nests, ‘nestcams’ have proliferated online, offering unique windows into the lives of these charismatic predators.
Jonathan, Adam, and Bill will draw upon extensive qualitative research with Peregrine nestcam hosts, local birding groups, and online visitors to nestcams across the UK. We examine three forms of digital human-bird relations mediated by Peregrine nestcams, and explore their biopolitical implications: i) observation: we examine how nestcams produce novel forms of scientific knowledge through attention to the “ minutiae of things”; ii) surveillance: we explore how nestcams allow Peregrines to “hide in plain sight,” securing them from anti-raptor persecution; and iii) entertainment: we investigate how affective, interpersonal relationships form between watching publics and oblivious birds, giving rise to a form of ‘digital domestication’.
Through attunement to the peregrines’ atmospheres, rhythms, and personalities, digitally mediated visions of the city as wild space emerge. Online platforms allow broad publics unique digital access to wild animals, some of whom are surprised by the presence of the world’s fastest animal—and its wildness—in nominally human spaces. Such encounters give rise to forms of care, concern, and interest, often encouraging individuals to seek physical human-bird encounters.
Jonathon Turnbull is a cultural and environmental geographer based at the University of Cambridge. His current research explores the human–animal relations and weird ecologies of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. He co-founded the Digital Ecologies research group, and also writes on Indian bovine geographies and more-than-human filmic geographies.
Adam Searle is an environmental and cultural geographer at Department of Geography, Cambridge University. His research broadly examines the relationships between humans, nonhumans, and technologies.
Bill Adams is Emeritus Moran Professor of Conservation and Development at Cambridge. His current interests include the role of digital and analogue tracking technology in conservation thought and practice; the implication of gene editing for our thinking about nature, and the political ecology of landscape-scale conservation.