Music videos, emotional geography, and pedagogy

Dr Tyler Sonnichsen1

1The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, United States


For the past two years, my favourite course to teach has been the Geography of American Popular Culture, and assignments I’ve created for the class mix emotional geographies, media studies, and digital ethnographies. For the one observed in this paper, my students select one popular music video from the heyday of Music Television (MTV) on YouTube and construct a critical analysis of that song’s psychogeographic impact by searching and sourcing user comments. My students have enjoyed this project, as it incorporates several pedagogical strengths of cultural geography: popular music, film studies, subjectivities, and nostalgia. My research here discusses the value of this assignment in teaching (1) digital ethnographies through social media and (2) the relationship between music, memory, and place. It also applies to the greater instructional value of MTV as an institution or music video as an art form. In my analysis, I quote student responses to the assignment and posit advances in the relationship between cultural geography, popular culture, and emotional geographies. Ultimately, this paper will add to the greater conversation on how Popular Culture Studies enhance pedagogy in Cultural Geography, and vice versa.


Dr. Tyler Sonnichsen is a Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (US), having earned his PhD there in 2017. His research focuses on underground music, tourism, urban development, and geography pedagogy. More of his work can be found at, and he can be reached via email at

Reconceptualising the Creative Economy: Possibilities in Place in Rural Victoria

Dr Melissa Kennedy1

1La Trobe University, Bendigo , Australia


The issue of the creative economy as a solution to decline is extensively debated in research, with cultural geographers urging a turn away from generic blueprint approaches to creative economies and towards a focus on place. While much of the debate focuses on creative economy interventions such as Richard Florida’s creative class as a capitalistic and formulaic response to decline, a growing strand of scholarship is broadening conceptions of who and what generates creative economies. Drawing upon JK Gibson-Graham’s theorisation of diverse and community economies, this paper contributes to this alternative strand of creative economy scholarship by detailing how rural creative economies are emerging in response to place concerns. I report on doctoral research with two rural Victorian towns that are enacting creative economic experimentation through Booktowns in Clunes and Slow Food in Mildura. This paper shows how rural creative economies are developing as a result of collective action and are underpinned by a range of actants, resources and economic relations, demonstrating how community and place are active agents of change beyond creative class framings.


Melissa Kennedy teaches and researches in community planning and human geography, specialising in community economic development. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on community economies and rural regeneration.

Translating another’s loss: for a non-mimetic, post-phenomenological account of the other

Ms Vickie Zhang1

1School of Geography, The University of Melbourne


A by-now large and well-established body of contemporary cultural geographical literature teaches us to attend to the senses, routed through a focus on the capacities of the geographer’s own sensing body. Grounded in an unwavering ambition to relations of attunement, relatively little has conversely been written on how geographers might sense the sensibilities of others outside of a presumption or aspiration to shared knowledge and experiences. Picking up this latter point, this paper seeks alternative modes of understanding sociality by foregrounding non-mimetic principles of relation, thinking with theories of translation, communication and community which place disjuncture and differentiation at their core. Writing through examples of my encounters with the losses of others, as I set out to track how the recent closures of two coalmines in regional Australia and China have affected the singular lives of former workers and their local communities, my aim in this paper is to make a claim for the necessary functioning of non-relations, misrecognitions and caesuras as central to any attempt to approach the sensory and aesthetic experiences of another.


Vickie Zhang is a PhD Student in the School of Geography at The University of Melbourne. Her thesis tracks the stories of workers at two recently-closed coalmines in Australia and China, tracing how people’s lives have been affected since the closures. She is interested in non-representational theories and methods, working life and documentary-making.

‘Doing Good’: Mapping humanitarian action in Melbourne through social media

Ms Tracy De Cotta1, Mr Peter Kamstra1, Dr Anthony McCosker1, Ms Ebony Gaylor2

1Swinburne Social Innovation Institute, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia

2Australian Red Cross, Melbourne, Australia


The emergence of mobile technologies and social media platforms now allow us to mediate our everyday experiences to establish new kinds of publicness. For humanitarianism, social media provides powerful opportunities to innovate, drive new forms of humanitarian action, and inspire and enable voluntary services. To harness their potential, we need to better understand what people do with social media and how they contribute to reshaping our values and our actions.

Research agendas in humanitarianism have focused heavily on disaster and crisis response. Little attention has been placed on everyday vernacular forms and contexts of humanitarian action and information exchange within contemporary cultures in the context of peace.

The project applies a novel methodology by drawing on Instagram data to develop a typology of everyday actions, targets and situations where people ‘do good’. Using both content and geographical data embedded in public Instagram posts, we are able to demonstrate and understand relationships between humanitarian activities and spaces and places. This opens new possibilities for critical geographic exploration of contemporary humanitarian action. Based on a project with the Australian Red Cross this research offers insights into how people engage with humanitarian activities and informal volunteering within everyday contexts in Victoria, Australia.


Tracy De Cotta is a researcher at Swinburne University’s Social Innovation Research Institute in Melbourne. The Institute collaborates with partners for intelligent, citizen and consumer-engaged social solutions to complex social problems. With a background in urban planning, research interests focus on how designed, incidental and emergent spaces (both physical and digital) shape our publics and our wellbeing.


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