The London Group of Historical Geographers was originally established in 1981. Since 1989 it has organised fortnightly themed seminars across three terms of the academic year at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. It is convened by Dr Ruth Craggs, Professor Felix Driver, Dr Innes M. Keighren, and Professor Miles Ogborn.

For supporting this seminar series, we are grateful to King’s, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway, Birkbeck, LSE, Open University, UCL, University of Sussex, and the IHR.

In 2011, Felix Driver published a short history of the seminar series (reproduced below), to mark its twenty-first anniversary.

London Group of Historical Geographers Seminar Series: An Anniversary Note*

Felix Driver

The London Group of Historical Geographers was established thirty years ago, in September 1981, by historical geographers in the University Colleges and Polytechnics of the London region. The product of an initiative by Richard Dennis and David Green, the Group initially convened occasional seminars at the Institute of Historical Research in the University of London (as reported in Area, vol. 14, 1982, p.156). Since 1989, when Felix Driver and Gillian Rose assumed responsibility for the series, the Group has organised fortnightly seminars across three terms of the academic year. This was enabled by the active support of a significant number of University Departments and research organizations, including Royal Holloway, Queen Mary, Kings and UCL, all of the University of London, plus the Open University, Sussex University, the HGRG, and the Institute of Historical Research itself. The series is now one of the world’s best-known and most active regular seminars devoted to historical geography.

Now in its twenty-first year as a regular fortnightly series at the Institute of Historical Research, the historical geography seminar provides an opportunity for geographers, historians and others to discuss and debate current research on a wide variety of subjects. Each term’s programme is usually organized around a general theme: over the years since 1989, these have ranged from ‘national identity’, ‘making war and ‘trade’ to ‘dream spaces’, ‘beyond the visual’ and ‘natural histories’. One term’s series was published by the HGRG, with support from the British Academy, under the title Nature and Science: Essays in the History of Geographical Knowledge (HGRG publication no. 28). On another memorable occasion, the Group arranged a screening of Patrick Keiller’s film London, followed by a discussion with the Director (S. Daniels, ‘Paris envy’, History Workshop Journal 40, 1995). In recent years, the programme has included seminar series convened by guest convenors. The current convenors are Felix Driver and Miles Ogborn.

Speakers at the seminars have included a large number of historical geographers from the UK and overseas, as well as numerous current or recent postgraduates presenting the fruits of their doctoral research. The seminar is consistently one of the best attended and the most lively of the regular seminars held at the Institute of Historical Research. Amongst the best-known speakers from beyond Geography since 1989 are Catherine Hall, Peter Hulme, Patrick Joyce, Bruno Latour, Lynda Nead, Patrick O’Brien, Benita Parry, Chris Pinney, Griselda Pollock, Roy Porter, Jane Rendell, Raphael Samuel, Simon Schaffer, Jim Secord, Nancy Stepan, Dorothy Thompson, and Colin Ward.

* Originally published in the Winter 2011 issue of the Historical Geography Research Group’s newsletter.