Laura Cameron, Geography
Laura Cameron approaches her research projects as opportunities to connect.
“I have a great sense of adventure when I embark on projects, especially when working in the archives,” says Dr. Cameron, who was named the 2010 Distinguished Historical Geographer by the Association of American Geographers and the journal Historical Geography. “Along the way, I try to fit the pieces together.”
Making connections is central to Dr. Cameron’s work, especially in her forthcoming book Freud in Cambridge, co-authored with John Forrester, head of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.
The book relates to her PhD work that examined the social history of ecological theory. While studying Arthur Tansley, the person credited with developing the idea of the ecosystem, she stumbled upon an archive of Tansley’s papers that contained a letter from Sigmund Freud to Tansley.
“That opened up a whole new way to approach the subject. While Tansley was coming up with these concepts such as the ecosystem, I was interested in finding out how disparate fields such as psychoanalysis were connected to his work,” she says.
Dr. Cameron stresses to her undergraduate students the importance of the archives as a creative research tool. In her course “Geographical Imaginations,” which she taught for the first time this fall, Dr. Cameron had the students complete an exercise in historical image analysis using materials from the Queen’s University Archives.
Explaining her passion for teaching, Dr. Cameron says she feels “really energized when we get a good discussion going and the students don’t want to stop.”
Holding the Canada Research Chair in Historical Geographies of Nature has helped Dr. Cameron balance her teaching and research commitments. It has also connected her to the Network in Canadian History and Environment where she serves as a team leader for the Transnational Ecologies project.