Yi-Fu Tuan Lectures

Yi-Fu TuanThe Yi-Fu Lecture Series features a wide variety of U.S. and international guest lecturers from all geographic disciplines. Lecturers at these Friday seminars also often speak at brown-bag lunches, one-on-one student sessions, and breakfast meetings with student interest groups as part of their visit. Doctoral students are invited to present their final research. The lecture series was initiated by Dr. Tuan (pictured at right) and receives enthusiastic support as a department and campus tradition.

All lectures are presented on Friday at 3:30pm in Science Hall - Rm 180 unless otherwise noted. Alumni, friends and the public are always invited to attend.

Fall 2014 Lectures

Daniel Z. Sui, The Ohio State University10 September – Alternative GIS (alt.gis) and the six senses of the new mind

  • Daniel Z. Sui, The Ohio State University

The past twenty years have witnessed the emergence of alternative GIS (alt.gis) practices that are quite different from conventional GIS activities. Intellectually tied to the critical cartography pioneered by J.B. Harley in the late 1980s and early 1990s, alt.gis has evolved from early discussions on GIS & Society, critical GIS, PPGIS, feminist GIS, map stories/geonarratives, deep maps to qualitative GIS, neogeography, crowdsourcing, volunteered geographic information (VGI), geoweb, post-colonial computing, geogames, geodesign, and spatial humanities. This talk presents an overview of recent themes in alt.gis and argues that Daniel Pink’s framework for the six senses of the whole new mind (design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning) captures the six major alt.gis practices remarkably well. I will also discuss the implications of the emerging six themes in alt.gis for GIS research and education in the years to come.

NOTE: This talk will take place on a WEDNESDAY in Room 444 Science Hall at 3:30.

Elizabeth Hennessy19 September – Molecularizing Conservation: Genetics, De-Extinction, and Pristine Nature in the Gal├ípagos Islands

  • Elizabeth Hennessy
  • UW-Madison, History Department

Genetic science is an increasingly common tool in conservation management that is reshaping understandings of biodiversity and how best to “save” it. In the Galápagos Islands, genetic research has led to the rediscovery of a species of giant tortoise that by all accounts went extinct more than 150 years ago. In this talk, I use the story of these tortoises to examine how one area of conservation genetics—reconstructions of evolutionary history, or phylogenetics—is contributing to a shift in the way pristine nature is understood and managed. Drawing on political ecologies and critical geographies of genetics, I trace the story of these tortoises, which are at the center of a conservation breeding and repatriation program aimed to “re-tortoise” an island with tortoises as genetically close to the original population as possible. I argue that genes are emerging objects of conservation that not only call forth new configurations of knowledge production, but also open new possibilities for managing endangered natures. Tortoise “genome geographies” (Fujimura and Rajagopalan 2011; Nash 2013) that trace lineages to particular islands articulate two understandings of pristine nature at stake in ecological restoration: the bounded Cartesian space of islands that has long structured national park conservation and the purity of species lineages, which genetic technologies offer a new means for understanding and manipulating. Analyzing genes as objects of conservation opens a technical-scientific black box to critical analysis, placing new technologies for imagining pristine nature in a history of debate about conservation management.

James Tyner3 October – Geo-Graphic Death: Space and the Politics of Violence Photography

  • James Tyner
  • Kent State, Geography Department

Between 1975 and 1979 the Communist Party of Kampuchea—also known as the Khmer Rouge—established approximately 200 security-centers. Among these was a prison designated as S-21, now widely known as the Tuol Sleng Security Center. S-21 was unique in that it was the only security center that photographed prisoners upon their arrival. Following the downfall of the CPK the photographs of S-21 have received considerable attention, notably as documentary evidence of crimes against humanity and as a means of discussing the ethics of post-mortem, or atrocity, photographs. However, the S-21 photographs constitute but one part of the overall photographic record of the Khmer Rouge. Drawing on a range of photographic theories, this paper provides a geographically informed understanding of ‘atrocity’ photographs as a means of providing a broader understanding of the spatial politics of violence.

Adena Rissman10 October – TBA

  • Adena Rissman
  • UW-Madison, Department of Forestry & Wildlife
  • Co-sponsored by CSEAS



Stephen Legg17 October – Empirical and Analytical Subaltern Space? Ashrams, Brothels and Trafficking in Colonial Delhi

  • Stephen Legg
  • University of Nottingham, Geography Department

In this paper I will engage the writings of Gayatri Spivak on the figure of the subaltern, focusing on a recurrent tension in her writings and in readings of them. The tension is between two seemingly contradictory definitions of the subaltern. One, more empirical definition, has featured in Spivak's writings for over 25 years and identifies the subaltern as the non-elite, the immobile or the figure beyond the reach of the state. Against this more empirical definition comes the famous analytical definition of the subaltern as he or she that 'cannot speak', being defined by their inaccessibility in the archive, as broadly conceived. This paper will argue that these two definitions have their respective forms of space, which suggest and demand different methodologies. I will suggest that an over-emphasis on the analytical definition has led to an over-cautious approach to subaltern spaces, neglecting the compulsion to attempt to find and say something about subaltern spaces which Spivak suggests. The paper demonstrates this approach through the examination of a report into abuse of women in some of Delhi's ashrams in the 1930s to suggest how we can use studies of empirically verifiable subaltern space to think about the analytically subaltern spaces which must always be beyond exploration.  This lecture will begin at 4pm.

Jung Won Son22 October – Accumulation by Dispossession under the Developmental State: High-Rise Apartment Development in Gangnam in the 1970s, South Korea

  • Jung Won Son
  • University College London, Bartlett School of Planning

In an attempt to understand the origin of Seoul’s high-rise apartment-dominated residential landscape, we examine Gangnam districts, which the South Korean developmental state created in the 1970s, as the prototype for residential property development. Based on analyses of various data sources, we show that in the property sector the state’s policies initiated accumulation through non-economic means, or what David Harvey called accumulation by dispossession (ABD). These means include the transfer of public assets to private hands, the designation of certified firms and providing those firms preferential treatment for housing construction, and assisting the further growth of big firms through mergers and acquisitions. By linking these empirical findings with what we already know about the South Korean state in the 1970s (often called “developmental state”), we make a theoretical point that ABD is strongly influenced by the nature of the state.

Note: This talk will take place on a WEDNESDAY @ 3:30 in Room 444 Science Hall

Kyungsoo Yoo7 November – TBA

  • Kyungsoo Yoo
  • University of Minnesota, Department of Soil, Water & Climate



Margaret Pearce21 November – TBA

  • Margaret Pearce
  • University of Kansas, Geography Department

Yi Fu Tuan lecture archive