Telling small stories: spaces of knowledge and the practice of geography



This article examines how the practice of learning geography, and the arenas in which knowledge-making takes place, can be usefully positioned within changing histories of the discipline. It contends that networks of action – understood through the intersection of social sites, subjects and sources – present a conceptual framework and narrative focus for the re-consideration of specific episodes from geography's past. The interventions made here are informed and illustrated by a ‘small story’ about the doing of geography. Based on different personal accounts, the story revives a series of events, encounters, dialogues and images dating back to the winter of 1951 at Glenmore Lodge, Scotland. This educational institution in the Cairngorm mountains offered children from urban areas the opportunity to learn field studies and the skills of ‘outdoor citizenship’. Initially, the focus falls on Margaret Jack, a 14-year-old field-course participant. Her learning experiences are traced through personal letters, a diary and a field journal dating from that time, and her recent recollections of this event. Margaret's account dovetails with the story of her field studies instructor, Robin Murray. Robin's role is traced through his learning experiences as a geography undergraduate at Aberdeen University, and the recent recollections of Catriona Murray, his wife.