Royal Geographical Society-IBG Annual Conference 2022

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


At the 2022 Annual Conference of the RGS-IBG, I presented in the 'Geography's Hidden Animals/Hidden Animal Geographies I' session organised by Dr Hannah Dickinson and Dr Catherine Oliver, speaking to the title 'Hidden and Hiding: Elusive Animals in the Korean Demilitarised Zone. The abstract was as follows:

The Korean demilitarised zone (DMZ) has traditionally been understood as an alienated borderland consistent with ideas of no-man’s lands as abandoned and enclosed spaces. However, far from being an empty space or geopolitical vacuum, the withdrawal of human bodies and activity from the DMZ has (inadvertently) established an ecological haven where non-human life thrives. The myriad species which inhabit this space are essentially hidden, obscured by the barbed wire fences and fortifications which surround them and simultaneously overshadowed by the geopolitical tensions which necessitate the division. Positioned within the burgeoning body of work which embraces animals as key agents within geopolitical practices, this article highlights the role that hidden animals play in constructions of the DMZ, as well as within inter-Korean dialogues. Focusing on two species intimately tied to the space, the Siberian Tiger and the Long-tailed goral, the article emphasises the differences in value assigned to each species and consequently, the amount of agency and ‘geopower’ they possess. In relation to this, it explores the distinctions between those animals which are hidden from view due to the inaccessibility of the space, those which are ignored on account of their uncharismatic qualities, and those which are purported to be ‘hiding’ within, despite a lack of evidence. Cognizant of the uncertain future of the DMZ, the article concludes with a consideration of how ‘revealing’ hidden animals might impact upon potential Korean reunification.

My participation at the conference was kindly supported by the Cultural Geographies research group of the Royal Geographical Society and by the Geopolitics, Development, Security, and Justice research group of Royal Holloway's Geography Department.
Period31 Aug 2022
Event typeConference
LocationNewcastle, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational