Photo: A government bunker in Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, by Harry Gibbs.
Harry Gibbs (2014, Jesus) introduces his dissertation, 'Connected concrete, vital communications and the radical openness of civil defence: Reimagining the Cold War bunker', which was awarded first place in the Historical Geography Research Group undergraduate dissertation prize, and also named 'Overall winner' in the Political Geography Research Group dissertation prize.
My dissertation brought together geopolitics, historical geography and STS theories to query existing understandings of wartime bunkers. Based on the UK's Cold War nuclear facilities and their communications systems, I sought to address the absence of work around bunkers' materiality and interrelations. By re-imagining them as networked, open and transformative entities, I hope to have highlighted the physical and technological infrastructures that are often ignored in geographical thought.
"Harry's dissertation on the connectedness of Cold War bunkers in the UK was an impressive piece of work that makes substantial contributions to the sub-field of bunker studies within political geography. We were particularly impressed with how the dissertation effortlessly guides the reader through what are challenging engagements with complex theories and concepts, most notably assemblage theory. Harry rightfully suggests that studies in this area, until now, have been fixated on the material (concrete) and human (as spaces of survival) nature of the bunker. As the project highlights, rarely has such work accounted for the spaces and connections between bunkers, with their proliferating networks and communications infrastructures. The project was also methodologically strong and utilised an impressive number of site visits, interviews and archival research, with the latter really helping provide a rich historical context and extra edge to site visits and interviews. Overall, this is an exceptional piece of undergraduate scholarship, far beyond what is expected at this level, and something that we hope Harry will continue to develop through postgraduate research in the future."
Undergraduate dissertation prize judging panel
The Political Geographical Research Group (PolGRG), supported by the RGS-IBG,
Photo: Map room, English Heritage bunker in York, by Harry Gibbs.