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It's the getting there that counts!

National Curriculum Keywords: TBC

Sophie Blackburn

PhD student, Department of Geography, King's College London.


Sophie is currently studying the longer-term impacts of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, on state-society relations and disaster risk governance in coastal communities of Tamil Nadu and the Andaman Islands. She has previously worked in the expeditions department Geography Outdoors at the RGS-IBG, and as a consultant on disaster resilience for IIED. She occasionally writes freelance for the online magazine West London Living.

Relevant resources:

Expeditions department at the RGS-IBG,


Research profile here

Talk summary:

Jamaica is a place with strongly polarised connotations; images of drugs, violence and urban warfare clash with a vision of white sandy beaches, lounging in a hammock with reggae on the breeze and a rum cocktail to hand. However, when an unexpected series of events led me to Jamaica to carry out my MSc dissertation fieldwork over a period of 6 weeks in 2011, the ‘real’ Jamaica came somewhat as a surprise. As students on a budget, my coursemate Jen and I were forced to venture beyond the luxury hotel complexes which dominate the tourist economy across the Caribbean - and we were richly rewarded for this. This talk will say something about our experiences, including: interviewing rural communities about hurricane preparedness and disaster risk reduction; sampling unexpected local cuisine (other than jerk chicken) such as fried festival, ackee and saltfish, and goat curry; the strikingly divided urban geography of Kingston; taking our lives in our hands riding the local minibuses; being chased by giant cockroaches; and being educated in the difference between reggae and dancehall. Oh - and meeting the most famous Jamaican of all*. This hopes to offer a flavour of Jamaican culture (or my impressions of it), which remains striking in its vibrancy and distinctiveness despite the tiny size of the country.


*No, not Bob Marley.

More about the speaker:

sophie Sophie_Blackburn_tv_screen

This talk has already taken place