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Professor Miles Ogborn

Professor of Geography, Head of School

email: m.j.ogborn@qmul.ac.uk
Tel: 020 7882 8926
Location: Geography building, Room 123

Profile

Miles Ogborn

I am an historical geographer concerned with understanding the relationships between power, space and knowledge (or communication) in a range of mainly eighteenth-century contexts. My work has dealt with the new geographies of eighteenth-century London, and trying to understand them as Spaces of Modernity (1998). It has also investigated the ways in which the English East India Company used a variety of forms of writing (Indian Ink, 2007) to construct a global trading network and territorial empire in India from 1600 to 1800. This was the same broad timespan for my attempt to write an introduction to global history through biography in Global Lives (2008). I am currently researching the relationship between empire and speech in the Caribbean by investigating how different forms of talk such as evidence giving in court and discussions of the plants that grew on the islands show that empires are oral cultures too.

You can hear me talking about some of these themes here: VODCAST "What is Intellectual Geography?" Miles Ogborn's keynote address to the Intellectual Geography Conference, Oxford, September 2011.

 

Key publications

  • M. Ogborn (2013) ‘Talking plants: botany and speech in eighteenth-century Jamaica,’ History of Science, 51 pp. 1-32.
  • M. Ogborn (2011) ‘The power of speech: orality, oaths and evidence in the British Atlantic world, 1650-1800,’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 36:1 pp. 109-125.
  • M. Ogborn (2011) ‘A war of words: speech, script and print in the Maroon War of 1795-6,’ Journal of Historical Geography, 37:2, pp. 203-215.
  • M. Ogborn (2008) Global Lives: Britain and the World, 1550-1800 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge) xx + pp. 343
  • M. Ogborn (2007) Indian Ink: Script and Print in the Making of the English East India Company (Chicago University Press, Chicago) xxiv + pp. 318.
  • M. Ogborn (1998) Spaces of Modernity: London’s Geographies 1680-1780 (Guilford Press, New York) xii + pp. 340.

 

Achievements/Awards
2012 Elected a Fellow of the British Academy

2009 Distinguished Historical Geographer. Awarded by the Historical Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers.

2001 Philip Leverhulme Prize from the Leverhulme Trust

Teaching

I teach modules in human geography at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In all of my teaching I aim to introduce students to key concepts through using a wide range of examples (often from my own research), and getting students to analyse and understand original materials for themselves. I have also written the textbooks for my own courses, so that students have clear guidance on what I am looking for and a range of resources to bring to the classroom.

I teach parts of human geography that are often new to students arriving at university, so it is important to make them accessible. In the second year I teach the cultural geography part of GEG5110 Society, Culture and Space. Here students learn about the meanings of spaces, places and landscapes and, for their coursework, are asked to choose a picture of a landscape to interpret for themselves. In the third year I teach a module (GEG6105 Global Historical Geographies) based on my book Global Lives –and also on visits to London museums. Here students are taught how to use historical sources, and how to write their own historical accounts of subjects such as slavery, piracy and oceanic voyaging. I am currently part of the team that has devised a new fieldcourse to Boston, USA for second and third years – GEG5125/GEG6125 Boston Reworked – which will involve students learning on the ground how we can understand the city’s past and present through a combination of historical documents, surviving objects and examining the landscape of the city itself.

For the Masters, I teach on GEG7123 Cities, Space and Power, which examines how public spaces in a range of cities, past and present, have emerged, changed and come under threat.

Research

Research interests:

The Freedom of Speech: Speech and Slavery in the Caribbean

This on-going research project considers the relationships between talk, text and (un)freedom in the slave societies of the Caribbean. Focusing on law, natural history, religion and politics, as well as the movements for abolition and emancipation, this project attends not to what was said in the past but to the cultural practices of talk themselves. These are particular, more or less rule-bound, ways of speaking such as the sermon, the botanical conversation, the giving of evidence, gossip or debating. In each case I examine the social and spatial relationships that were involved in and produced through these practices from the small scale geographies of the spaces where talk went on (in courtrooms, plantations gardens and streets) to the trans-Atlantic networks that these modes of speech were part of. Studying speech provides an empirical and theoretical basis for moving away from the dominant textual model of representation of people and places towards one based on the idea of an on-going, situated, power-laden and agonistic ‘conversation’ with many participants using text and talk in different ways.

 

The Child in the World

AHRC Extended Collaborative Doctoral Award programme

This five-year collaboration between Queen Mary and the V&A Museum of Childhood (2010-15) focuses on researching the lived experiences of London children between 1870 and the present day. The research is being undertaken by three PhD students working on distinct Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDAs) on children, home and empire (Mary Guyatt); children, migration and diaspora (Eithne Nightingale); and children and global citizenship (Lamees al Mubarak). The supervisory team consists of Alison Blunt, Alastair Owens and myself in the School of Geography, Kiera Vaclavik in the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, and by colleagues at the V&A Museum of Childhood. The research will inform the redisplay of the museum and produce a range of learning resources. Website.

 

Reconnecting Sloane: Texts, Images, Objects

AHRC Extended Collaborative Doctoral Award programme

Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753), doctor, traveller, natural philosopher and man of letters, was responsible for gathering together one of the greatest collections of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which went on to form the basis of the British Museum. This project of three interlinked PhD studentships investigates his collection of thousands of manuscripts and printed books, multiple albums full of pictures and numerous objects (including a vast range of botanical and zoological specimens) to understand how it was part of the great transformation of knowledge about the world and about nature in the early Enlightenment. In collaboration with the Natural History Museum, my part in the project is to supervise Victoria Pickering’s research on Sloane’s “Vegetable Substances”, a collection of over 8000 catalogued specimens in individual hand-made boxes. You can hear something about this in this short talk I gave at the Natural History Museum.

Hans Sloane's Vegetable Substances, Miles Ogborn's contribution to the AHRC Sloane Treasures Workshop, Natural History Museum, London, April 2012

 

[Pictures and logos]

Publications

Books


  • M. Ogborn and C.W.J. Withers (eds) (2010) Geographies of the Book (Ashgate, Farnham) xiv + pp. 302.
  • M. Ogborn (2008) Global Lives: Britain and the World, 1550-1800 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge) xx + pp. 343
  • B. Longhurst, G. Smith, G. Bagnall, G. Crawford and M. Ogborn with E. Baldwin and S. McCracken (2008) Introducing Cultural Studies. Second edition (Pearson Education, Harlow) xvi + pp. 347. South Asian Edition (Dorling Kindersley India, forthcoming 2011)
  • M. Ogborn (2007) Indian Ink: Script and Print in the Making of the English East India Company (Chicago University Press, Chicago) xxiv + pp. 318.
  • M. Ogborn and C. W. J. Withers (eds) (2004) Georgian Geographies: Essays on Space, Place and Landscape in the Eighteenth Century (Manchester University Press, Manchester) xii + pp. 203.
  • A. Blunt, P. Gruffudd, J. May, M. Ogborn and D. Pinder (eds) (2003) Cultural Geography in Practice (Arnold, London) xiv + pp. 330. Korean language edition, Hanul Publishing, Seoul, 2007.
  • E. Baldwin, B. Longhurst, M. Ogborn, S. McCracken and G. Smith (1999, Revised first edition 2003) Introducing Cultural Studies (Prentice Hall, Hemel Hempstead) xxii + pp. 467. Also published by University of Georgia Press, Athens, 2000; Chapter 4 ‘Topographies of Culture’ (by M. Ogborn) reprinted in a Custom Book by University of Southern Australia; Chinese language edition, 2004, Higher Education Press, Beijing, xxii + pp. 500); Polish language edition 2007, Zysk i S-ka Wydawnictwo, Poznan; Korean language edition, forthcoming, Hanul Publishing, Seoul.
  • M. Ogborn (1998) Spaces of Modernity: London’s Geographies 1680-1780 (Guilford Press, New York) xii + pp. 340.

 

Papers and Chapters

  • M. Ogborn (forthcoming) ‘Making connections: port geography and global history’, in Lourdes de Ita (ed.) Organización del Espacio en el México Colonial: Puertos, Ciudades y Caminos, CONACyT, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, UMSNH, México. ISBN 978-607-424-036-8
  • M. Ogborn (forthcoming 2011) “It’s not what you know…” : encounters, go-betweens and the geography of knowledge,’ Modern Intellectual History
  • M. Ogborn (2011) ‘A war of words: speech, script and print in the Maroon War of 1795-6,’ Journal of Historical Geography 37 pp. 203-215
  • M. Ogborn (2011) ‘The power of speech: orality, oaths and evidence in the British Atlantic world, 1650-1800,’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 36:1 pp. 109-125.
  • M. Ogborn (2011) ‘Epistolary history,’ History Workshop Journal 71 pp. 253-259
  • M. Ogborn (2011) ‘Archive’, in J. Agnew and D.N. Livingstone (eds) The Sage Handbook of Geographical Knowledge (Sage, London) pp. 88-98.
  • M. Ogborn and C.W.J. Withers (2010) ‘Introduction: book geography, book history,’ in M. Ogborn and C.W.J. Withers (eds) Geographies of the Book (Ashgate, Farnham) pp. 1-25.
  • M. Ogborn (2010) ‘The amusements of posterity: print against empire in late eighteenth-century Bengal,’ in M. Ogborn and C.W.J. Withers (eds) Geographies of the Book (Ashgate, Farnham) pp. 29-49.
  • M. Ogborn (2010) ‘Finding historical sources,’ in N.J. Clifford, S. French and G. Valentine (eds) Key Methods in Geography Second Edition (Sage, London) pp. 89-102.
  • M. Ogborn (2009) Contribution [2,500 words] to a book review symposium along with David Arnold on James S. Duncan (2007) In the Shadows of the Tropics, in Progress in Human Geography 33 pp. 714-721.
  • M. Ogborn (2009) ‘Francis Williams’s bad language: historical geography in a world of practice,’ Historical Geography 37 pp. 5-25.
  • M. Ogborn (2006) ‘Streynsham Master’s office: accounting for collectivity, order and authority in seventeenth-century India,’ Cultural Geographies 13 pp. 127-155
  • D. Lambert, L. Martins and M. Ogborn (2006) ‘Currents, visions and voyages: historical geographies of the sea,’ for special issue on ‘Historical Geographies of the Sea’, Journal of Historical Geography 32:2 pp. 479-493.
  • M. Ogborn (2005/2006) ‘Mapping words,’ New Formations special issue on ‘The Spatial Imaginary,’ 57 pp. 145-149
  • M. Ogborn (2005) ‘Modernity and modernization,’ in P. Cloke, P. Crang and M. Goodwin (eds) Introducing Human Geographies Second Edition (Arnold, London) pp. 339-349.
  • M. Ogborn (2005) ‘Atlantic geographies’, guest editorial for special issue of Social and Cultural Geography 6 pp. 379-385.
  • M. Ogborn and C. W. J. Withers (2004) ‘Knowing other places: travel, trade and empire, 1660-1800,’ in C. Wall (ed.) A Concise Companion to Restoration and the Eighteenth Century (Blackwell, Oxford) pp. 14-36.
  • M. Ogborn (2004) ‘Geographia's pen: writing, geography and the arts of commerce, 1660-1760,’ Journal of Historical Geography 30 pp. 294-315
  • M. Ogborn and C. W. J. Withers (2004) ‘Introduction: Georgian geographies?’ in M. Ogborn and C. W. J. Withers (eds) Georgian Geographies: Essays on Space, Place and Landscape in the Eighteenth Century (Manchester University Press, Manchester) pp. 1-23.
  • F. Mort and M. Ogborn (2004) ‘Transforming metropolitan London, 1750-1960,’ Journal of British Studies special issue 43:1 pp. 1-14.
  • M. Ogborn (2004) ‘Designs on the city: John Gwynn’s plans for Georgian London,’ Journal of British Studies special issue 43: 1 pp. 15-39.
  • M. Ogborn (2004) ‘Archives,’ in S. Pile and N. Thrift (eds) Patterned Ground (Reaktion, London) pp. 240-42
  • C. Nash and M. Ogborn (2003) ‘Historical geography: making the modern world,’ in A. Rogers and H. A. Viles (eds) The Student’s Companion to Geography (Blackwell, Oxford) pp. 108-112.
  • M. Ogborn (2003) ‘Mapping the metropolis,’ Journal of British Studies 42:1 pp. 119-126.
  • M. Ogborn (2003) ‘Knowledge is power: using archival research to interpret state formation,’ in A. Blunt, P. Gruffudd, J. May, M. Ogborn and D. Pinder (eds) Cultural Geography in Practice (Arnold, London) pp. 9-20.
  • M. Ogborn (2003) ‘Gotcha!’, History Workshop Journal 56 pp. 231-238.
  • M. Ogborn (2003) ‘Finding historical data,’ in N. Clifford and G. Valentine (eds) Research Methods in Human and Physical Geography (Sage, London) pp. 101-115.
  • M. Ogborn (2002) 'Writing travels: power, knowledge and ritual on the English East India Company’s early voyages,’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers New Series 27:2 pp. 155-171.
  • M. Ogborn (2002) ‘Wherein lay the late seventeenth-century state? Charles Davenant meets Streynsham Master,’ Journal of Historical Sociology 15:1 pp. 96-101.
  • M. Ogborn (2001) ‘This is London! How d’ye like it?’ Journal of Urban History 27:2 pp. 206-216.
  • M. Ogborn (2001) ‘Identity parade,’ Tate: The Art Magazine special issue on ‘Retracing Britain’ 37 pp. 52-55.
  • M. Ogborn (2000) ‘Pavements’ and ‘Traffic Lights’ in S. Pile and N. Thrift (eds) City A-Z (Routledge, London) pp. 176-177 and 262-264.
  • M. Ogborn (2000) ‘Historical geographies of globalisation, c. 1500-1800,’ in B. J. Graham and C. Nash (eds) Modern Historical Geographies (Prentice Hall, London) pp. 43-69 [Japanese translation, Kokon Shoin, Tokyo 2005]
  • M. Ogborn (1999) ‘This most lawless space: the geography of the Fleet and the making of Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1753,’ New Formations 37 pp. 11-32.
  • M. Ogborn (1999) ‘The relations between geography and history: work in historical geography in 1997,’ Progress in Human Geography 23:1 pp. 97-108.
  • M. Ogborn (1999) ‘Modernity and modernization,’ in P. Cloke, P. Crang and M. Goodwin (eds) Introducing Human Geographies (Arnold, London) pp. 153-161 [second edition, 2005 pp.  339-349].
  • M. Ogborn (1998) ‘The capacities of the state: Charles Davenant and the management of the excise, 1683-1698,’ Journal Of Historical Geography 24:3 pp. 289-312.
  • M. Ogborn (1998) ‘Georgian geographies?’ Journal of Historical Geography 24:2 pp. 218-223.
  • M. Ogborn (1997) ‘Locating the Macaroni: luxury, sexuality and vision in Vauxhall Gardens,’ Textual Practice 11:3 445-461.
  • M. Ogborn (1997) ‘(Clock)work in historical geography: autumn 1995 to winter 1996,’ Progress in Human Geography 21:3 pp. 414-423.
  • M. Ogborn (1996) ‘History, memory and the politics of landscape and space: work in historical geography from autumn 1994 to autumn 1995,’ Progress in Human Geography 20:2 pp. 222-229.
  • M. Ogborn (1995) ‘Knowing the individual: Michel Foucault and Norbert Elias on Las Meninas and the modern subject,’ in N. Thrift and S. Pile (eds) Mapping the Subject: Geographies of Cultural Transformation (Routledge, London) pp. 57-76.
  • M. Ogborn (1995) ‘Discipline, government and law: separate confinement in the prisons of England and Wales, 1830-1877,’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers New Series 20:3 pp. 295-311.
  • M. Ogborn and C. Philo (1994) ‘Soldiers, sailors and moral locations in nineteenth-century Portsmouth,’ Area 26:3 pp. 221-231.
  • M. Ogborn (1993) ‘Ordering the city: surveillance, public space and the reform of urban policing in England, 1835-1856,’ Political Geography 12:6 pp. 505-521.
  • M. Ogborn (1993) ‘Law and discipline in nineteenth-century English state formation: the Contagious Diseases Acts 1864, 1866 and 1869,’ The Journal of Historical Sociology 6:1 pp. 28-54.
  • M. Ogborn (1992) ‘Teaching qualitative historical geography,’ Journal of Geography in Higher Education 16:2 pp. 145-150.
  • M. Ogborn (1992) ‘Love-State-Ego: “centres” and “margins” in nineteenth-century Britain,’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10:3 pp. 287-305.
  • M. Ogborn (1992) ‘Local power and state regulation in nineteenth-century Britain,’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers New Series 17:2 pp. 215-226.
  • M. Ogborn (1991) ‘Can you figure it out?: Norbert Elias's theory of the self,’ in C. Philo (ed.) New Words, New Worlds: Reconceptualising Social and Cultural Geography (Cambrian Printers, Aberystwyth) pp. 78-87.
  • G. Rose and M. Ogborn (1988) ‘Feminism and historical geography,’ Journal of Historical Geography 14:4 pp. 405-409.

PhD Supervision

Completed:

  • Darrin Bayliss (ESRC studentship, QMUL) The Emergence of “Community” on Inter-War Council Housing Estates in London (completed 1998)
  • Kim Pang (ESRC studentship, QMUL) Towards British-Chinese Futures: A Social Geography of Second Generation Young Chinese People in London (completed 1999)
  • Alastair Owens (QMUL College studentship) Small Fortunes: Property, Inheritance and the Middling Sort in Stockport, 1800-1857 (completed 2000)
  • Janet Hill (Self-funded, part-time, QMUL) Local Government Change and the Production and Consumption of Leisure Space in the Surrey Docks Peninsula 1979-1997 (completed 2000)
  • Glenn Smith (Health Authority funded, QMUL) Windows in Time: The Spatial Experience of Men with Chronic Illness/Disability From Childhood to Adulthood (completed 2001)
  • Robert Higham (QMUL College studentship) Social Justice and Higher Education in South Africa (completed 2003)
  • Dr Lydia Bruce-Burgess (ESRC/NERC studentship, QMUL) Evaluating River Restoration Appraisal Procedures: The Case of the UK (completed 2004)
  • Dr Fiona McConnell (ESRC 1+3 studentship, QMUL) Sovereignty Without Territory? The Political Geographies of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (completed 2009)

 

Current:

  • Anna Kretschmer (QMUL College studentship, 2010) Theatre and the Body in Eighteenth-Century London
  • Gabriel Wick (self funding, part-time, QMUL, 2010) Landscape and the Aristocracy in late Eighteenth-Century France
  • Lamees Al-Mubarak (AHRC CDA studentship with Museum of Childhood, 2012– ) The Child in the World: Children and Global Citizenship.
  • Elin Jones (AHRC CDA studentship with National Maritime Museum, 2012– ) Masculinity and Material Culture in the Royal Navy, 1750–1815
  • Victoria Pickering (AHRC CDA studenship with Natural History Museum, 2012– ) Putting Nature in a Box: Hans Sloane’s Vegetable Substances.

 

I welcome applicants for PhD research on any aspect of the historical geography of the long eighteenth century, particularly in relation to questions of knowledge and questions of global trade, maritime history and empire. I also welcome applicants interested in questions of space, power, knowledge and communication in other periods and places, or those who are interested in collaborative research projects with museums.

Public engagement

My research (and some teaching) increasingly involves working with museums. As well as being a past and present member of advisory committees for the National Maritime Museum and the Museum of London. I am the supervisor of AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards with the National Maritime Museum (on masculinity and material culture in the eighteenth-century Royal Navy, and on representations of the Thames as the river of empire in the eighteenth century), the Natural History Museum (Reconnecting Sloane) and the Museum of Childhood (The Child in the World). Each of these projects will lead to changes in the way that these museums and their many visitors experience and engage with their collections. As a small example, I am proud to say that the interactive pleasure gardens exhibit in the Capital City galleries of the Museum of London was inspired by my work in Spaces of Modernity (1998) to bring together multimedia versions of past and present artefacts to reimagine the sensory experience of the garden.

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