The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Caleb Johnston

Lecturer in Human Geography

Background

Education

2010 Ph.D. University of British Columbia 

2006 MA UBC, Geography

2004 BA (honours) UBC, Geography


Previous Positions

2013-16 Lecturer in Human Geography, Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh 

2011-13 Research Associate, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow 

2010-11 Visiting Scholar, Center for Global Metropolitan Studies, University of California, Berkeley 


Service

2019- Member, Global Ageing Network

2017- Member, Geographies of Social Change cluster, Newcastle University 

2015-18 Editorial Board, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 

2017- Member, Creative Practice Research Forum, Newcastle University 

2015- Managing Editor, Studies in Social Justice, Creative Interventions 

2014-15 Co-Convenor, International Emotional Geographies Conference, Edinburgh 

2013-16 Managing Committee, Global Justice Academy, University of Edinburgh 

2012- Steering Committee, Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network 

2012-13 Advisory Committee, School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh


Esteem

2019 Reading of Nanay at the Prairie Theatre Exchange Festival and annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers, Winnipeg, organised by Dr Sarah Zell, Migrante Manitoba, and Winnipeg’s Migrant Solidarity Network  

2018 Invited Speaker, London School of Economics, Urbanisation and Development cluster 

2018 Plenary Talk, Society and Space, Annual Association of American Geographers, Boston 

2017 Plenary Talk, Participatory Geographies Research Group, RGS-IBG, London 

2013 Jasmin Leila Award, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
2011 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Post-Doctoral Prize (shortlisted) 

2009 The Children’s Choice Awards, Saddest and Most Realistic Play, Children’s Choice Awards, PuSh Festival 


Recent Talks  

2019 From Archive to repertoire in Bagong Barrio. Department of Geography, University of  

Toronto.

2019 Authors meet critics on Migration in Performance: Crossing the Colonial Present. (Panelists:

Lieba Faier, John Catungal, Sarah de Leeuw, Alison Mountz, Tadiar Neferti). American Association of Geographers, Washington.

2018 Unsettling scripts of disposability. Urbanisation, Planning and Development cluster, London

School of Economics. 

2017 Playing games of chance in the Canadian North. Performing Urgency: Space, Performance

and Politics. Nordic Geographers Meeting, Stockholm.

2017 Ethnographic performances and games of change in the decolonizing present. Keynote talk

for Society and Space at the annual conference of the American Association of

Geographers, Boston.

2017 Tlingipino Bingo: Performing solidarity across Indigenous and Filipino immigrant experiences

of state violence. Reimagining Creative Economy. University of Alberta, Calgary.

2017 Testimonial theatre and the geopolitics of trauma and empathy. University of Leeds. 

2016 Performing precarity in Bagong Barrio. Annual Meeting of Institute of British Geographers

(with IBG), London (presenter and convenor).

2016 Life-times and spaces of disposability in Bagong Barrio, Metro Manila. Social Geographies of

Urban Abandonment. American Association of Geographers, San Francisco.

2016 Urban crisis: resistances, opportunities and co-optation. University of Edinburgh (convenor).

2015 Who saved the city? Exploring urban activisms in times of austerity in North America and

Europe and Beyond. University of Edinburgh (convenor).

2015 Performance as transnational and scholarly inquiry: migrant labour and urban dispossession.

Canadian Association of Geographers, Vancouver.  

2014 Theatre, politics and the impossible ethic. Annual Meeting of Institute of British Geographers

(with IBG). Keynote talk for the Participatory Geographies Research Group, London.

2014 Transnational affects in the space of theatre. Centre for the History of Emotions, University

of London, Queen Mary, London.

2014 The political work of feelings. Migration and Intimate Life. Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and

Migration Network, University of Glasgow, Glasgow.

2013 Testimony, theatre and ethics. Queen’s University, Department of Drama, Canada.

2013 Emotions on the move. New Frontiers of Geographical Knowledge and Practice? Annual

Meeting of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), London.

2013 Circulating discourses of suffering across national contexts. Institutional Spaces of Pain,

Suffering and Trauma. Emotional Geographies, Groningen.

2013 Circulating suffering: part two. Institutional Spaces of Pain, Suffering and Trauma [redux].

Association of American Geographers, Los Angeles.


Grants and Fellowships

2019 Global Challenges Strategic Initiatives Fund

2018 German Federal Cultural Foundation

2018 Newcastle University, Teaching and Learning Fund 

2017 Economic and Social Research Council, IAA 

2017 Newcastle University, Faculty Research Fund

2016 Yukon Government, Arts Fund                                                            

2016 Yukon Government, Culture Quest                                                                                        

2013 Economic and Social Research Council  

2012 Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Small Grant                       

2012 British Columbia Arts Council, Projects

2012 Jasmin Leila Award, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

2011 Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Postdoctoral Fellowship

2011 British Columbia Arts Council, Projects

2011 City of Vancouver, Cultural Grants Program

2010 British Columbia Arts Council, Projects

2010 City of Vancouver, Cultural Grants Program 

2010 British Council, International Projects

2009 Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, India Studies Fellowship

2009 Vancouver Foundation, Arts and Culture

2008 British Columbia Arts Council, Projects

2008 Vancouver Foundation, Health and Social Development                                        

2008 City of Vancouver, Cultural Grants Program

2008 Canada Council for the Arts, Projects                                                                  

2006 Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Doctoral Fellowship

2004 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Masters Fellowship 

Research

Core Interests

Performance, politics, aesthetics, testimony, witnessing 

Migration, precarious labour, transnational families

Dementia care, outsourcing 

Subaltern urbanism, informalisation, India 

Performance/Research/Engagement  

Tlingipino Bingo 2016-17

This is a new theatre project developed in collaboration with Tlingit and Filipino theatre artists in the city of Whitehorse. The piece revolves around an actual bingo game, in which audience members participate as bingo players and storytellers. The performance provides the occasion for community storytelling and exchange, and serious play around issues of shared dispossession, and communication and miscommunication between Tlingit people and Filipino migrants in the Canadian North. The play premiered at Whitehorse’s 2016 Nuit Blanche Festival. Funded by Yukon Government of Canada. 

Nanay: a testimonial play 2009-16

Nanay is a testimonial theatre project designed to engender public debate about Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program, and directly addresses the experiences of Filipino domestic workers who come to Canada as migrant labourers. Nanay transforms very conventional qualitative interview transcripts into testimonial theatre, which is to say, our project is based entirely on verbatim monologues taken from interviews conducted over a 15 year period with domestic workers, their children and Canadian employers. Our overall objective in Nanay is to forge a more complex identification with both the plight of domestic workers, as well as that of middle-class families struggling to secure affordable care in Canada.The production premiered at Vancouver’s 2009 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, and then toured to Berlin’s HAU1 Theatre as part of their Your Nanny Hates You! Festival. In 2012, we conducted a script reading with professional actors at the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in Edinburgh (2013) and Whitehorse (2014). We have also carried out two productions of the work in Metro Manila (2013; 2015).  Funded by the ESRC, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada Council for the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, City of Vancouver, Koerner Foundation and Vancouver Foundation. 

Tu Vois Ce Que Je veux Dire? [Do You See What I Mean?] 2013-14

This project invites spectators to experience the city in a radically new fashion, turning the routine of daily life into an extraordinary journey of heightened senses and transformed perceptions. Created by Lyon-based Projet In Situ, this piece of one-on-one theatre is a 2.5 hour blindfolded tour into the streets, storefronts and homes of Vancouver. It is a site for experiencing the tactile, felt geographies of the city. The project was presented at Vancouver's 2013 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. A performance created by Projet In Situ. Funded by the British Columbia Arts Council, City of Vancouver, French Consulate, and Institute Frances.

City of Dreams 2011

This new theatre work explored Vancouver social histories, topographies and embedded urban memories. The central image of the work is a poetic map of Vancouver constructed from hundreds of found objects that were assembled during performance. This physical mapping of Vancouver was mirrored by a soundscape composed of recorded and archived audio materials, from environmental sounds, snatches of song to oral testimonies. City of Dreams premiered at the 2011 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Funded by British Columbia Arts Council, City of Vancouver, and British Council.

Counter Mapping 2011

This contemporary interdisciplinary exhibition brought together the work of 17 professional artists around the theme of counter mapping the city of Vancouver. This exhibition began with a question: if maps are the instruments of power, how might we produce and circulate a poetic, radical cartography? Working across disciplines, artists deployed a range of tactics in their rewriting of the urban landscape, utilizing mapping and surveillance technologies to constructive disruptive cartographies. We moved from tracking individual lines of inquiry through GPS to impersonating tour guides in offering alternative histories of the city. We traced maps to get lost in the city, to descend into and experiment with new ways of moving through the urban terrain. The exhibition included collaboration between cultural geographers from the University of British Columbia and visual artists at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts. Counter Mapping premiered at the 2011 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, and selected works toured to the University of Glasgow for an international conference entitled Excursions: telling stories and journeys. Funded by City of Vancouver and British Columbia Arts Council.

A Storied Sea 2009

This geo-audio-literary work was created for Vancouver’s Western Front as part of Intersections—a new music series that brought together writers and composers together to create site-specific commentaries informing particular geographic spaces in Vancouver. Created in partnership with Vancouver composer James Maxwell, the piece spliced environmental sounds and composed music for trombones with the recorded testimonies of David Fraser, whose family squatted on the Vancouver waterfront in the 1920s. A Storied Sea was performed in a guerilla street performance, concert and online forum. It was researched as a site exploring new ways of writing geographical knowledges, and for circulating sensory, felt geographies of the city. 

Arts, Health and Seniors 2008-10

Funded by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and bringing together a collaboration between UBC's Faculty of Nursing and the City of Vancouver, Arts, Health and Seniors looked to demonstrate how involvement in the arts can improve the health and well being of seniors experiencing physical, social, and sexual orientation barriers. Engaging 80 seniors in four different community centres over a three-year period, the project built new expertise between health workers, artists and funders in the area of chronic disease management. I spent two years working as project manager, researcher and one of eight site artists in AHS. Funded by Vancouver Coastal Health and City of Vancouver. 

Practicing Democracy 2004-06

Created by Vancouver's Headlines Theatre for Living, Practicing Democracy was North America’s first deployment of August Boal’s model of Legislative Forum Theatre. Devised in collaboration with city planners and elected municipal councillors, the objective of this project was to use forum theatre to generate community-based law on issues related to homelessness in the City of Vancouver. We researched the project as a substantial effort to use a particular model of political theatre to generate creative solutions to what is now a familiar aspect of neo-liberal economic policy, namely, cuts to social services and welfare provision. Funded by Canada Council for the Arts, British Columbia Arts, and City of Vancouver.


Teaching

Current Teaching 

GEO2043 Key Methods for Human Geographers 

GEO2100 Contested Geographies of New York City (Module Leader) 

GEO2110 Social Geographies 

GEO2111 Doing Human Geography Research: Theory and Practice 

GEO3099 Dissertation

Current PhD Students

Christos Galavis. Hillwalkers and Homecomers: Walking as Belonging among Munro Baggers and Scots-Canadians in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Principal's Career Development Scholarship.

Maida, Melisa. Negotiating Belonging: The Gendered Experiences of Refugee Women in Tyneside. ESRC PhD Studentship.

Completed PhD Students

Nico Stefanovics. (2016) The Making of a New Downtown: Urban Place-Making in HafenCity, Hamburg, Germany.

Publications