Department of Geography and Planning

Department of Geography and Planning
Department of Geography and Planning
Portrait of W. George Lovell.

W. George Lovell

Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room D305

I was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, where many formative geographical experiences took place. The first member of my family to finish high school (Allan Glen's) and go on to university, I stuck close to home and daily crossed the river from Govan to Gilmorehill. At the University of Glasgow (1969-1973) I graduated with an M.A. in Regional and Systematic Geography, thereafter traversing the Atlantic, not the Clyde, to pursue my graduate education.

Two degrees from the University of Alberta (M.A., 1975; Ph.D., 1980) convinced me that I might, after all, have a future career in education. Queen's University hired me in 1979 on a one-year, non-renewable position. I have remained at Queen's in various guises (postdoctoral fellow, tenure-track appointee, and now tenured professor) ever since.


  • M.A. (Glasgow)
  • M.A., Ph.D.. (Alberta, 1980)

Research Interests:

For the most part, my research relates to a long-standing interest in the nature of the colonial experience in Latin America. The regional setting I am most familiar with is Central America, specifically Guatemala, but over the years I have conducted research throughout Latin America, from Mexico in the north to Argentina and Chile in the south, including some work in Brazil. A central issue of my research is indigenous response to imperial intrusion. Of particular importance in this regard are patterns of native survival. Why, for example, were the Maya of Guatemala (today still half the national population) more successful in shaping a culture of survival than their autochthonous counterparts elsewhere in the Americas? What were the key determinants in the complex process of cultural continuity as well as cultural change? Answering these questions requires careful consideration (among other things) of environment and resource use, landholding and settlement, economic demands and ethnic relations, and demographic shifts over time. The colonial connection between Old World disease and New World depopulation has consumed much of my attention. My work in these fields has earned me the Carl O. Sauer Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers, a Queen's University Prize for Excellence in Research, and an Award for Scholarly Distinction in Geography from the Canadian Association of Geographers. In 2012 and 2013 I was honoured to receive a Killam Research Fellowship from the Canada Council for the Arts.

While the study of colonial Latin America is the subject I would consider my primary area of specialization, I am interested in other aspects of historical and cultural geography as they relate to regions outside of Latin America, especially Spain, where I also supervise graduate students. I also consider it important that, as academics, we try to share the results of our research with an interested general public and publish in languages other than English. With these ends in mind I have published op-ed pieces in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and the Ottawa Citizen as well as having my work appear in Spanish, French, Italian, and Catalan. On two occasions (1995 and 2005) stories I have written have been short-listed in the CBC Literary Awards competition. My love of music is reflected in a memoir of the rock group, Procol Harum.

Also central to my research endeavours has been my co-editorship (with Armando J. Alfonzo) of the journal Mesoamérica, published in Spanish from the offices of Plumsock Mesoamerican Studies (PMS) in South Woodstock, Vermont. Over the past three decades Mesoamérica has emerged as the premier forum for scholarly research on the region between Mexico and Panama. Between 1998 and 2008 I co-edited issues 36 through 50 of Mesoamérica, as well as a bibliographical guide (Indice General) to the contents of all fifty numbers of the journal published to date. PMS supports the work of the Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica in Antigua, Guatemala, a research institute with which I have been affiliated since its establishment in 1978.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF 121 kB)