Underground imaginations, environmental crisis and subterranean cultural geographies

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This paper takes us on an experimental journey underground, visiting a series of subterranean sites dispersed in space and in time. Exploring caves, venturing down holes, and squeezing through tunnels in the field, the studio and the gallery, the paper reflects on a series of creative projects, some made several centuries ago, others more recent collaborations between geographers and artists.

After decades of western eyes being drawn up and out, the interest in the vertical and the geologic has complicated geographical imaginations dominated by ‘surface chauvinism’ and atmospheric concerns. Rich accounts of historical underground demonstrate the role of subterranean arts and culture in everything from shaping the emergence of Geology as a modern discipline, molding the form of the modern European city and, helping constitute the cartographies of colonialism, as well as, crucially forming modern western environmental imaginations.

Drawing from the force of these histories, the paper explores the environmental imagination that emerges through this underground journey. In doing so it revisits our understandings of the geographic imagination and proposes the possible value of this concept as part of the emerging creative vocabulary of global environmental change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-22
Number of pages20
JournalCultural Geographies
Issue number1
Early online date7 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

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