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3 February 2021
UWC academic takes mobility research to new heights with a Fellowship from the Royal Geographical Society

Professor Bradley Rink, Associate Professor in the University of the Western Cape’s Department of Geography, Environment Studies and Tourism, has been awarded a 2021 Royal Geographical Society Wiley Digital Archives Research Fellowship.

He is the only South African to be named as one of 11 recipients, and one of only two fellows from Africa. As such, Prof Rink will have access to the Wiley Digital Archives for the next six months to complete his research on “Airmindedness redux: growing tourism and worldliness through aeromobility in Africa”. 

Rink describes the project that secured this prestigious fellowship as a “reboot” of the notion of airmindedness in Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. His work will focus on the emergent Jet Age, when the notion of being able to travel around the world from what was then still perceived as “the dark continent of Africa” gained momentum. “With the introduction of super-modern aircraft it became possible to link Lusaka and London,” Rink explains. 

The Research Fellowships have been awarded by the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) to make their pre-1945 Collections accessible to a wider audience. A partnership with the Wiley Digital Archives (WDA) means that researchers such as Rink will be able to access the material remotely via the WDA platform - a significant benefit while lockdown restrictions are in place. 

The digital archive contains more than 150 000 maps, charts and atlases, as well as manuscripts and field notes, spanning four centuries, dating from 1478 to 1953. It is representative of the largest private collection of geographical material, dating back to the 1400s, that is held by the RGS in London. 

The Fellowship will create opportunities to present at local and international conferences, and to be published in one of the Royal Geographical Society’s journals, adds Rink. It will also enable Rink to add his work to the esteemed Collections, which include contributions from other influential geographers such as David Livingstone and Edmund Hillary.