Participatory Geographies at the PGF-Mid-Term Conference

The RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum Mid-Term Conference took place on the 19th– 21stApril 2017 hosted by the School of Geography and Planning at Cardiff University. The Conference brought together PhD students from different universities in the UK and abroad in a friendly and supportive environment that allowed the exchange of research projects in a vibrant way. Networking and liaison with researchers working in related-topics was one of the main highlights of the event. Geography never disappoints you in the variety of topics included as object of analysis!

Furthermore, it was my first participation in the Postgraduate Forum Mid-Term Conference made possible by the sponsorship of the Participatory Geographies Research Group, a research group of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). Therefore, it was an opportunity to present some ideas that are in the methods chapter of my thesis titled ‘Geographies of Dispossession: Territory, Law and Race in the Last Palenque, Colombia.’ My presentation during the Conference addressed the role of geographical participatory research methods in supporting territorial claims of Afro-descendant communities in Colombia in the context of the Peace Agreement signed between the Government and the FARCs-EP in 2016. The feedback of the audience and colleagues was very positive including the Chair of the Panel, Dr Andy Williams. In this sense, I received questions that made me think more on my own positionality and the importance (highlighted during my presentation) of interdisciplinary work, for instance, in my case study, I combine Geography and Law.

I was inspired by many other presentations especially those which described work with un-represented groups and stressed the importance of the impact, that many times is underestimated, in the lives of our research participants from the so-called Global South. Moreover, the workshop ‘From Majors to Minors: Proofing your thesis to minimise amendments’ gave me new skills for facing submission, making me aware of timing and preparation prior to handing in, of which I was not having in mind before. In this sense, I would also like to highlight the workshop on ‘Publishing in Geography’ that clarified many ideas and gave reasons to start publishing during the PhD. We are all capable to do it and it is worthy to try!

Once again, I am grateful with the Participatory Geographies Research Group for making my participation possible in this Conference. I would like to encourage other PhD students to join the next one!

See you there for more fruitful discussions…


Postgraduate Researchers from the Departments of Geography and Urban Studies and Planning of the University of Sheffield.

Ana Laura Zavala Guillen

PhD Candidate, Geography Department, University of Sheffield