• Faraz Shibli

Is there anything left to explore in the 21st century?

Updated: Jul 9

I was delighted recently to speak as a panellist at the Royal Geographical Society's Explore South West event at the Exeter Phoenix. The topic for discussion: 'Is there anything left to explore in the 21st century?'

The evening was hosted by BBC Radio 4's fabulous Ritula Shah, and chewing the fat with me on stage were National Geographic conservation biologist Niall McCann, Mercury Prize-nominated folk singer Sam Lee and explorer and researcher Johanna Wadsley.

We kicked off with a conversation about what exploration means to us, before swiftly moving on to what seemed like everything under the sun: refugees, migration, conservation, tensions between explorers and local populations and how to inspire young geographers, to name but a few.

What twigged my interest most, though, was a question about whether outdated, imperialist forms of exploration – flag-planting, dominating and thrusting Eurocentrism – have well and truly been consigned to the dustbin of history (pith helmet in tow), or whether their remnants are still to be found in the expeditions of today.

You can listen to a short clip of my thoughts below and a longer recording of the event on YouTube.


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