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Dr Cheryl McGeachan
Lecturer in Human Geography
I am a historical and cultural geographer working on issues relating to mental ill-health and asylum spaces. My ESRC-funded PhD research undertaken in the University of Glasgow entitled ‘Enticing Ghosts to Life: Exploring the Historical and Cultural Geographies of R.D. Laing’ (2010), sought to introduce the life and work of psychiatrist, psychotherapist and psychoanalyst R.D. Laing (1927-1989), to a geographical audience for the first time in order to highlight both the geographies of Laing and Laing’s geographies. Through creating a geographical biography of Laing’s early life, starting in his childhood world of Glasgow in the late 1920s and working through to his creation of the ‘asylum’ of Kingsley Hall in 1965, I demonstrate how certain spaces, sites and places became integral to the formation of Laing’s practices and broader philosophy on mental health issues, particularly schizophrenia.
Since finishing this research I have stayed in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow as a teacher and researcher and was recently appointed as a Lecturer in Human Geography (2015). I am part of the Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces Research Cluster based in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences: https://asylumspaces.wordpress.com. My work continues to investigate the experiences of mental ill-health and to use biography and life-writing as tools to examine the fragmentary traces of human existence and their worlds.
Research and Teaching Interests
My ongoing research interests concern historical and cultural geographies of mental ill-health and asylum spaces, history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, histories of science, life-writing and biography, and psychotherapeutic practices such as art therapy and outsider art. Current research relating to the medical humanities includes the project, ‘A Tapestry of Tales: Investigating the Historical Geographies of Art Therapy and 'Art Extraordinary' in Scotland (1950-1980)’, funded by the British Academy BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants (2014/16). This research programme investigates the historical geographies of art therapy and 'Art Extraordinary' in Scotland from 1950 to 1980. In particular it examines the different institutional sites and spaces where art therapy and 'Art Extraordinary' was being produced in order to shed new light on the complex histories and geographies of mental health care in Scotland during the period.
Methodologically, I am interested in critically investigating the practices of the ‘archive’ and using visual methods to capture situated memories. Previous work funded by the Wellcome Trust, entitled ‘Encountering R.D. Laing's Archive: Mental Health, Care and Creativity’ sought to use the R.D. Laing archive as a source of inspiration for critical and creative outputs. A number of events were held across Glasgow including a film showing of rare archival footage, a conference and a creative writing event held in the Special Collections at the University of Glasgow. A compilation of creative prose was created from the event and is freely available to the public.
- College of Science and Engineering, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences