Christina Hourigan


Personal profile

Personal profile

Christina is in her third year of a four-year CDA PhD in the Department of Geography, RHUL, and at RBG Kew. Her research focuses on the cultural history of the arboretum using RBG Kew as a case study (from 1841 onwards), exploring the themes of landscape, place, collections, botanical networks, and the histories of science and horticulture on site.

This research is mainly archival, based at RBG Kew as well as other garden and arboretum archives in the UK, US and elsewhere. She is developing a version of object biography for this research based around living trees, to better explore how individual trees have had agency in shaping the landscape and the purpose of this botanical collection. Viewing trees as embodied history, agents of landscape change, and markers of social and scientific history is key to her research.

She also aims to reveal the historic hidden voices of the workforce of Kew in a social history of education and labour in the arboretum, through researching memoirs, correspondence, and work journals, looking at historic tools and practices. Exploring the gardeners' relationship with landscape, botany and plant collecting offers new insights into the history of an arboretum that is both local and global.

Education/Academic qualification

Garden History, MA, Birkbeck, University of London

Plant Humanities, Summer Programme, Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard)

Ecology, BSc. Hons., Lancaster University


  • Historical geography