Driver, Felix

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Male. Education: Cambridge University, Ph.D.


Office—Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, London TW20 OEX, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Royal Holloway, University of London, London, England, professor of human geography, director of Social and Cultural Geography Group.


Grant from the Leverhulme Trust; AHRB Innovation Award.


(Editor, with Gillian Rose) Nature and Science: Essays in the History of Geographic Knowledge, Institute of British Geographers (London, England), 1992.

Power and Pauperism: The Workhouse System, 1834-1884, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1993.

(Contributor) David Livingstone and the Victorian Encounter with Africa, edited by John MacKenzie, National Portrait Gallery (London, England), 1996.

(Editor, with David Gilbert) Imperial Cities: Landscape, Display, and Identity (essay collection), Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1999.

Geography Militant: Cultures of Exploration and Empire, Blackwell Publishers (Malden, MA), 2001.

(With Luciana Martins) British Visions of the Tropical World, 1750-1850, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2005.

Contributor to Reading Human Geography: The Poetics and Politics of Inquiry, edited by Trevor Barnes and Derek Gregory, Arnold (London, England), 1997; and Introducing Human Geographies, edited by Philip Crang, Paul Cloke, and Mark Goodwin, Arnold (London, England), 1999. Contributor of articles to scholarly journals, including Journal of Historical Geography and Area. Member of editorial board, History Workshop Journal.


A professor of human geography, Felix Driver is a scholar whose interests include imperialism, the cultural geography of the European imperial city, and moral geographies of social policies in Britain. In addition to publishing articles in journals, Driver has written and edited several scholarly works. Dealing with the topics of science and exploration are Nature and Science: Essays in the History of Geographic Knowledge and David Livingstone and the Victorian Encounter with Africa. Driver and Gillian Rose shared the editorship of the former study, which Professional Geographer reviewer Cindi Katz stated "makes an important and interesting contribution to the project of untangling the noninnocent role of geography and its allied disciplines in the production of space and nature." Katz also wrote that the editors' introduction to Nature and Science "gives an overview of the until-recently rather uninspired and almost wholly uncritical nature of writings on the history of geography" and summed up the book as a "set of works in progress" and, as such, an "important project." Even so, she commented that "it would have been useful, and perhaps productively discomfiting to authors and readers alike, had the contributors reflected on the production of geographical knowledge under contemporary conditions." For the latter title, published to accompany a 1996 National Portrait Gallery exhibition about the life and times of nineteenth-century Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone, Driver contributed an essay about the "culture of exploration," in which he analyzes how and why interest groups in Victorian culture promoted Livingstone's celebrity for their own ends. Basil Davidson of the Times Higher Education Supplement praised Driver's essay, calling it "shrewd" and describing the entire volume as a "splendidly attractive tribute to Livingstone" that "is very well done." Writing in Victorian Studies, Phyllis M. Martin stated that "altogether, this is a distinguished contribution to our understanding of Livingstone and the Victorian encounter with Africa."

The early nineteenth-century workhouse system has been the topic of many scholarly studies and also appealed to Driver, who in 1993 published Power and Pauperism: The Workhouse System, 1834-1884. While many previous studies were limited to the differences between central policy and local practice, Driver's is "a richly contextualized geographical frame of analysis that owes much to the work of Michel Foucault," wrote Anthony Brundage in Victorian Studies. Driver's "book is filled with discussions of boundaries, locations, separations, spatial strategies, and administrative landscapes.… Power and Pauperism manages a very successful mapping (geographical as well as semiotic) of the 1834 act in operation." Among those reviewers impressed with Power and Pauperism were John Stevenson of the Times Literary Supplement, who called it a "splendid account," and Brundage, who decided that "it is one of the many strengths of this book that, in addition to the geographic frame of analysis, there is sufficient narrative plus an appreciation of historical contingency and the importance of individual actions to make it a very good read."

Driver teamed up with David Gilbert to edit Imperial Cities: Landscape, Display, and Identity, which had its origins in a research project at the University of London that concluded with an international conference in 1997. These fifteen essays by geographers and historians revolve around the imperial cities of London, Glasgow, Marseilles, Paris, Rome, Seville, and Vienna. The editors and contributors express the "conviction that the form, use and representation of modern European cities have been shaped by the global history of imperialism in ways that continue to matter even in an apparently post-imperial age." Not only did imperialism shape the countries colonized but the habitations of the colonizers themselves, which Victorian Studies reviewer Richard L. Stein dubbed "reflexivity" and deemed "one of the chief strengths of this volume." Stein added that "another strength derives from the variety of cities examined as case studies." Peter Howard of Urban Studies noted that the essays were first presented as papers at a conference and were accompanied by many illustrations, but felt that the few illustrations in the published work are inadequate to illustrate such complex discussions.

In 2001 Driver published Geography Militant: Cultures of Exploration and Empire, a "widely researched and well-written study," remarked Isis reviewer Susan Schulten. The title of the work alludes to an article by novelist Joseph Conrad in which Conrad contrasts "Geography Fabulous" (dealing with speculation), "Geography Militant" (dealing with acquiring knowledge through exploration), and "Geography Triumphant" (the end of uncharted spaces). In the varied essays that make up this "well wrought, closely knit book," according to Choice reviewer G. J. Martin, Driver examines the lives and work of nineteenth-century British explorers. Discussing the controversies and conflicts among the members of the Royal Geography Society, which was an organization made up of people with diverse interests and abilities, he looks at the exploratory activities of David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley, and Winwood Reade; considers the London Africa Exhibition of 1890; and ponders how William Booth used "the language of exploration" as a springboard for urban renewal. Schulten praised Driver's "more complex and subtle approach," adding, "one of Driver's great strengths is to demonstrate the sheer diversity of what counted as 'exploration' or 'geography' in this period."



Choice, April, 2001, G. J. Martin, review of Geography Militant: Cultures of Exploration and Empire, pp. 1522-1523.

English Historical Review, February, 1996, Michael E. Rose, review of Power and Pauperism: The Workhouse System, 1834-1884, p. 225.

Geographical Journal, March, 2001, A. H. Dawson, review of Imperial Cities: Landscape, Display, and Identity, p. 94.

Isis, March, 2002, Susan Schulten, review of Geography Militant, p. 87.

Journal of European Studies, March, 2001, Denis J. B. Shaw, review of Geography Militant, p. 112.

Professional Geographer, August, 1993, Cindi Katz, review of Nature and Science: Essays in the History of Geographical Knowledge, pp. 368-369.

Times Higher Education Supplement, September 20, 1996, Basil Davidson, review of David Livingstone and the Victorian Encounter with Africa, p. 26.

Times Literary Supplement, May, 21, 1993, John Stevenson, review of Power and Pauperism, p. 29.

Urban Studies, July, 2000, Peter Howard, review of Imperial Cities, p. 1466.

Victorian Studies, summer, 1994, Anthony Brundage, review of Power and Pauperism, p. 617; spring, 1998, Phyllis M. Martin, review of David Livingstone and the Victorian Encounter with Africa, p. 548; winter, 2003, Richard L. Stein, review of Imperial Cities, p. 319.*