Category Archives: Workshops

Violence Against Women and Girls: A Workshop on the Geographies that Wound

(Original post: CRIT-GEOG-FORUM)


The Wellcome Collection, London

Monday 14th September 2015 (0830-1730)

The publication of the article ‘The Geographies that Wound’ (Chris Philo, 2005) brought attention to the interlaced geographies that create vulnerabilities for certain bodies, in certain places, over others. Ten years on, the workshop will revisit the theme of wounds and wounding with a specific focus on violence against women and girls (VAWG) – a human rights abuse often described as one of the starkest collective failures of the international community in the 21st century. While in geography the wounded body has been examined in relation to the geopolitics of conflict, asylum and garment-work (as notable but not exhaustive examples), the workshop looks to extend and deepen scholarship on precarious corporealities to lived experiences of VAWG. It also aims to counterbalance the onus in geography on war-related violence to generate greater awareness of the everyday spaces of VAWG within, but also critically beyond, (inter-) national landscapes of conflict and militarism. Bringing together geographers and inter-disciplinary speakers, the workshop aims to explore the characteristics and dynamics of the entangled spaces and scales that render women’s and girls’ bodies the place of physical and psychological harm. It will also consider the ‘treatment’ and healing of wounds through different means, a range of spaces and temporalities, and with varying outcomes.

The workshop includes keynote talks by Professor Chris Philo (University of Glasgow) and Professor Rachel Pain (Durham University).

It marks the end of a 2012-2015 study on domestic violence and legal reform led by Katherine Brickell and joint funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Department for International Development (DFID).

If you would like to attend, listen to the presentations and participate in discussions please sign up through Eventbrite by 31 July at 5pm (there are 30 places available, all of which are free):

All good wishes,

Katherine (workshop organiser)
Dr Katherine Brickell
Reader in Human Geography
Department of Geography
Royal Holloway, University of London
Surrey TW20 0EX

Twitter: @k_brickell
Tel: 01784-443563
Fax: 01784-472836


Public Engagement: Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces at Explorathon 2014

Explorathon – Scotland’s first ever European Researchers’ Night – was an interactive celebration of research that took place on Friday the 26th of September 2014 in the bustling environment of Glasgow Science Centre. Explorathon enabled researchers from across Europe to showcase some of the most exciting and innovative research taking place in the Sciences and the Arts and Humanities – including The Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces Research Group.

Cheryl, Louise, Hazel (and Noah) at Exploration 2014

Cheryl, Louise, Hazel (and Noah) at Exploration 2014

Armed with a wealth of informative materials, including our asylum spaces brochure, postcards, leaflets and a range of images from our work for people to take away and muse over as well as an extensive supply of compost and craft paraphenalia, our stall displayed the scope of our collective research efforts and interests. In a bid to showcase the overarching themes of our research group the stall encompassed numerous ‘spaces’ of ‘mental health geographies’ from the asylum and post-asylum to creative spaces. The asylum and post-asylum materials depicted the changing landscapes of mental health care in Scotland (and beyond) while the creative space sought to demonstrate different spaces of care and support for people living with mental health problems. The latter sought to engage with the creative ways people choose to express themselves. Historically, through a showcase of Art Extraordinary materials and in a more contemporary vein our ‘Occupational and Art Therapy’ activities. This created a platform whereby adults and children could engage in similar therapeutic activies as a way of exploring these changing landscapes. The activies set up included planting bulbs and decorating plantpots as a vein through which we opened discussions on the support offered through community garden schemes and arts-for-health projects. Each of the pots were adorned with our Blogsite address and, albeit unintentionally, became a portable advertisement for our stall driving more people to visit us to engage with and participate in the remarkable stories and spaces of mental health care.

Noah's Masterpiece!

Noah’s Masterpiece!

Explorathon opened up an exciting opportunity which encouraged discussion and participation in an informal and relaxed environment helping to facilitate engagement of our ongoing research projects and interests with other researchers and, more importantly, the general public. The opportunities presented at Explorathon should encourage us to recognise the potential of public engagement to inspire, stimulate discussion and collaborate with communities and wider society on existing and future projects. Establishing our collective research in physical space creates an arena through which we can validate, support and celebrate our research goals and accomplishments. We were completely overwhelmed by the response we received from those engaging with the stall and expressing an interest in our research, taking our literature and postcards and commenting on the ‘interesting’ and ‘fascinating’ nature of what we do.

In the weeks since Explorathon our site has seen almost 60 visitors and had over 150 page views something I hope is a reflection of the interest and engagement with our stall. The event provided an excellent opportunity for us to share aspects of our ongoing research and helped to create further conversations into the areas of mental health care, asylums and post asylum geographies, aspects I hope we, as a unique cluster, hold on to and continue to engage with in the very near future.

Louise Boyle

Reflections on RD Laing’s Archives Workshop

Creative Writing Event

By Cheryl McGeachan

On the 18th September 2014, a small group came together on level 12 of the University of Glasgow library to take part in Wellcome Trust supported event ‘Encountering R.D. Laing’s Archive: Mental Health, Care and Creativity’. Below are a few reflections on my experiences of the day from my pencil scribbled notes and some of the rough work produced. It was a wonderful day, full of mixed emotions as the city of Glasgow buzzed with referendum uncertainty below, and I hope to write more about the event in the near future.

The delicate sound of a young Ronnie Laing accompanying his father on the piano fills a room in the archive. I have worked on the prominent Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing (1927-1989), for many years ( and I have made his archive collections ( my second home but today I was not working alone. Twelve new friends, keen to explore Laing’s papers (some for the very first time), joined me in the Special Collections and the encounter was an inspirational one.

Our first task was tricky. “Imagine you could add something to the Laing archive”, creative writer Geraldine Perriam inquires, “what would it be?” The group discusses the politics of the archive – who decides what goes into the official repository? How would we feel about the remnants of our lives being possessed in such a way? Issues of trust and meaning are highlighted as important, privacy becomes key.

R.D. Laing Archive

It is missing. I cannot find it. Between the dusty files and the crackling tape recordings is something that is not there. Something is missing. Time rolls on and I am still searching. I climb the stacks and seek out the files – letters from friends, patients, lovers and friends long gone, case note records of patients past, diaries that document the lectures attended, books read and people encountered, photographs of ghostly relations – but there is still a feeling of something not quite there. What is it I cannot find? Maybe it is him. (My first attempt at the ‘archives’ writing exercise)

The power and the will to record, to hold on to the memories of a life are noted. Our attention is taken from the archive itself by Geraldine and out into the wider landscapes of mental health care. We think about place. Different depictions of hospitals and their grounds are discussed and described. I think of Laing and of Gartnavel Royal Hospital. I think about the people that have over the years called the place home.

We are asked to think about voice. Geraldine prompts us to write a conversation that is happening ‘in place’. The image of the hospital refuses to leave my imagination and so I write about two patients, Ethel and Rose, and situate them in Gartnavel’s grounds.


Ethel: I can’t remember the last time I saw him.

Rose: Me either (sighs).

Ethel: Did he say if he would come back?

Rose: (Long pause) I don’t remember.

Ethel: Me either.

The grey-filled sky seems to fall over the hospital blanketing it in a heavy carpet of evening light. It begins to get cold and the two women bring their white jackets closer to their bodies, clutching at the last remnants of heat.

Ethel: He felt it too, you know.

Rose: (sighs and coughs) I suppose.

The sky turns blacker as time passes by. Evening turns quickly to night and the two figures become locked into the landscape.

Rose: I don’t think it matters now anyway. The time for help has passed.

Ethel: (Laughs) There was never a chance for you, my dear.

Rose: (Slowly smiles)

Ethel: I just can’t remember when he was last here, maybe I shouldn’t try to remember those terrible days and nights.

Rose: Ronnie always was a man of many talents, disappearing seems to be his favourite trick recently.

Ethel: I hope he doesn’t stay away for long … this time.

The hospital suddenly becomes enveloped in darkness and the archive stack is locked for another day.

Rose: Maybe he will come again tomorrow?

(My first attempt at the ‘conversations’ exercise)

The group thinks about times when conversations do not flow. We think about the sometimes difficult relationships between people in the psychiatric setting and the importance of reflecting critically about listening. Geraldine then prompts us to think about ‘voice’. We are asked to think about Laing’s voice. I chuckle as I have heard this voice speak many times through different recordings, the slow Scottish drawl that could be cutting and kind.

Laing’s voice from the archive

RD: Why are you doing that?

 Me: Me? What? Sorry?

 RD: Why are you looking at my things like that?

 Me: I’m trying to understand them.

RD: Why?

Me: Because it might be important?

RD: Really? But what do you want from it?

Me: I want to know why you thought the way you did, why you wrote about people experiencing mental ill-health the way that you did, what you saw, felt, experienced …

RD: But how you can you do all that? That is a little absurd.

Me: I thought from the materials that you left behind I could trace these fragments of experience, tack them together and find something important.

RD: Why don’t you just ask me to explain?

Me: Because, you are gone.

(My first attempt at the ‘voice’ exercise)

The end of the day draws closer and the group reflects on the ways in which we can all work with different stories. The range of materials used in the workshop, carefully compiled by Sarah Hepworth of the Special Collections, from Laing’s student essays, handwritten drafts of poems, letters from Angus MacNiven and Jean Paul Sartre, drafts of talks, obituaries and press releases through to materials relating to Gartnavel such as the Gartnavel Gazette and annual reports, all inspired a range of new stories to be imagined and told. We end the event by talking about the importance of curiosity and the value it has for allowing new ways of thinking about mental health and the people who experience its diverse dimensions.

Creative Writing Workshop in Glasgow

Encountering R.D. Laing’s Archive: Mental Health, Care and Creativity

18th September 2014 10am – 4pm

Organisers: Cheryl McGeachan, Sarah Hepworth and Geraldine Perrium


As Glasgow marks a significant milestone in its history of mental health care in 2014, being 200-years of organised psychiatric care in the West of Scotland, there is a unique opportunity to develop new conversations across disciplines, professions and communities that question the role of institutions and the future of mental health care in this changing contemporary landscape. Focussing on the life and work of Scotland’s famous and controversial psychiatrist, Ronald David Laing (1927-1989), this event seeks to start critical conversations about the past and present understandings surrounding issues of mental health care.

We invite 12 applicants to join us for a one-day creative writing workshop, ‘Encountering R.D. Laing’s Archive: Mental Health, Care and Creativity’ supported by the Wellcome Trust. This event seeks to bring together a range of individuals from across communities, disciplines and professions to work with a selection of written, visual and audio material from Laing’s personal archive. Creative writer Geraldine Perriam will lead an exploration of the creative ways in which archive material can be used, opening up new discussions into mental health care in Scotland and beyond.

We encourage anyone to apply. As places are limited, selections will be made based on bringing together a range of interested people from different backgrounds. There is no fee and all refreshments on the day will be provided. The event will take place in Special Collections, University of Glasgow Library.

Applications are open until August 1st. Selected applicants will be contacted by Friday 8th August. If you would like to be involved, please complete the application form available to view at the R.D. Laing Collection page:

An opportunity to share experiences and/or material produced from the workshop will be given at the ‘Encountering R.D. Laing: Mental Health, Care and Creativity’ Conference taking place in the University of Glasgow on Friday 10th October 2014 (details to follow).

Further questions about this event should be directed to Cheryl McGeachan