Prof Bill Richardson



This Research Group comprises an interdisciplinary grouping of academics in both NUI Galway and the University of Limerick, working on questions relating to space, place and identity in a broad range of contexts. The PRA reflects contemporary developments in Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences research, particularly the ‘spatial turn’ taken by such research in a wide range of disciplines, such as literary, linguistic, philosophical, anthropological, sociological, film, historical and cultural studies, advances that have led those fields to intersect with spatial concerns in geography.

This synergy enables members to collaborate on topics of mutual interest that lie within the general thematic area of space, place and identity. The conviction behind this collaboration is the belief that it is crucial to further this area of interdisciplinary study, thereby deepening and broadening our understanding of such issues. We place disciplines in dialogue with one another, thus expanding the types of analyses that are possible in a range of areas where concepts of place, spatial knowledge and displacement are important, and achieving an impact on wider society in terms of raising awareness of how questions addressed within this broad academic field have a significant effect on people’s everyday lives.

Our aims include attempting to achieve more nuanced insights into the ways in which questions of space, place and identity impinge upon and are contingent on a variety of important academic issues. Members address public-policy aspects of such issues, exploring the historical and contemporary complexities of culture, place and landscape, of spatial displacement and the operation of power, both in Ireland and abroad, by engaging the challenge of contextualising and historicising understandings of landscape, heritage and environment, as well as by exploring contemporary questions of landscape/environment sustainability, governance and management. Colleagues are interested in the various ways in which human societies interact and examine, for instance, the wide range of competing discourses on issues of environment, landscape and development, in both rural and urban contexts and their implications for communities past, present and future. They also examine how questions of place, space and displacement impinge upon and are contingent on a variety of modes of symbolic expression, on the one hand, and the ways in which diverse modes of symbolic and cultural expression provide insights into the nature of human spatiality, on the other. Modes of expression that are of interest include language, literature, film, dance, song and iconography, encompassing a wide range of academic approaches to such study, including ethnography, anthropology and intercultural studies.

Members of the PRA engage in a range of community knowledge initiatives and participate in Public Lecture series, festivals, seminars and other events, which entail the participation of the general public, as well as publishing materials aimed at a non-specialist readership.