Dr Pepe Romanillos
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography


Research interests

Geographies of death, absence and finitude

A large part of my doctoral research centred on developing a agenda on the notion of finitude. The thesis, Experiences of Finitude: Spatiality as Communication after Georges Bataille and Alain Robbe-Grillet, argued for the value of thinking about finitude in the following terms: addressing the phenomenological basis of spatiality; exploring the senses and limits of communication and representation; questioning anthropocentric perspectives and divisions between the human and nonhuman; conceptualisations of inter-subjectivity and the ethical relation; reflecting on absence, mourning, memory and compassion; and developing an environmental ethics that addresses the phenomenon of extinction and conceptualisations of a finite earth.

Cultural geographies of literature and visuality 
My research interests in the field of literary geographies stem from my doctoral research where I explored the work of two modernist French authors, Georges Bataille and Alain Robbe-Grillet. I used their work to affirm the value of literature in questioning a range of geographical concepts such as landscape, place and spatiality, and in disrupting habitual approaches to text, context and representation. I have published in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space on aspects of this research, exploring the literary landscapes of Alain Robbe-Grillet. I have recently developed a paper on Louis-Ferdinand Céline that explores his groundbreaking work Journey to the End of the Night in the context of the geographies of modernity. I am also interested in the geographical function of images in constituting and shaping particular cultural geographies.  My third year undergraduate module, Images of the Earth, draws upon this research interest and concentrates on how different visualizations of the earth (from cartography and aerial photography, to landscape perspectives and documentary film), mediate and configure understandings of space, nature, territory and world.

History and philosophy of geographical thought
I have a broad interest in the interactions between philosophy and geographical thought. This interest ranges from the historical development of phenomenological approaches in human geography, to the Swedish geography of Gunnar Olsson and Torsten Hägerstrand and their respective approaches to questions of representation and spatial agency. I am particularly interested in the role of continental philosophy in advancing the intellectual agendas of contemporary human geography – found, for example, in recent work on affect and performance, new political subjectivities, geo-philosophy, and attempts to re-theorize and address matter and the non-human. In this context, I have a longstanding interest in spatial theory and continental philosophy, and the relations between phenomenology and post-structuralism. I am particularly interested in the spatial implications of authors such as Martin Heidegger, Alexandre Kojève, Georges Bataille, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Jean-Luc Nancy. 

Recent conference and seminar activity:

‘On the place of the Anthropocene in contemporary philosophical thought’ Centre for Environmental Arts and Humanities Launch and Symposium, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter Penryn Campus 11-12 September 2013.

 ‘Geology as a shock to thought: speculative realism and the naturalist turn in the image of humankind’ presented in ‘Re-evaluating the Anthropocene, Resituating ‘Anthropos’’, session at the Association of American Geographers, Los Angeles April 2013.

 ‘Herzog’s ridiculous sublime: landscape, appearance and evidence in the ‘natural documentary’ films of Werner Herzog’, presented in the Literary and visual landscapes interdisciplinary seminar series, Faculty of Arts, University of Bristol, 11 March 2013.

‘Nihilism and Modernity: Céline’s Journey to the End of the Night’, presented at Literary Dynamism of Place: Crossing, Settling, Circulation, Ustinov College, Durham University, 8th - 9th, April, 2011

‘Geography, death and finitude’, departmental seminar presented at the Department of Geography, Durham University, 16th March, 2011

Research Groups:

I am a member of the department’s Geographies of Creativity and Knowledge research group, and the Natures, Materialities and Biopolitics research group. I am also a member of the History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (RGS-IBG).

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