Yi-Fu Tuan Lecture Archive

Yi-Fu Tuan in a classroom

All lectures are presented fully online via Zoom every Friday at 3:30 PM. The link to join the meeting is https://uwmadison.zoom.us/j/99623736476 except when otherwise indicated. Brown bag sessions start at noon on the days there are speakers. Alumni, friends and the public are always invited to attend.


Spring 2021 Lectures

January 29 - Anthropogenic impact: perturbations of dissolved inorganic carbon, and pollution in a tropical estuary
Hendratta Ali
Fort Hays State University

Anthropogenic activities can significantly and irreversibly alter the natural environment. Mangrove - containing estuaries play an important role in providing essential environmental and ecosystem services e.g. capturing and sequestering carbon, coastline protection, timber, food etc. for coastal communities. This role is threatened by activities in highly populated coastal cities, and increased pollution. We employ aqueous geochemical and stable isotopes to investigate the nature of perturbations due to pollution, and dissolved inorganic carbon evolution in the Wouri Estuary.

February 12 - On the Immutable Horrors of Black Life (Revisiting the Geographies of Despair)
Aretina R. Hamilton
Brandeis University

“It dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others … shut out from their world by a vast veil.” Scholar W.E.B. DuBois famously laments the psychic and geographical violence of navigating the everyday horrors of Black Life in Jim Crow America. Yet, for marginalized scholars, this double consciousness continues to permeate the work that we do. We find ourselves, like DuBois, perpetually viewing the realities of American life from behind a veil. In this talk, I examine how white space-making practices — gentrification, over policing, redlining, real estate rackets, block busting, discriminatory lending practices, displacement, and consumer racial profiling — reinforce white supremacy and Black horror. While the Black Lives Matter movement has brought to light systemic racism, the “new” discovery of Black pain, trauma, and the immutable horrors of Black life is not new. Mining the experiences and writings of Black geographers Harold Rose, Donald Deskins and Clyde Woods, I will explore how the white unseen — an intentional thought pattern and epistemological process in which acts of white violence and the everyday terrors, trauma, and tensions faced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) — erases the complicity of white academic spaces and white intellectual thought in perpetuating these crimes.

February 19 - Shibbolethic Science: Bodies as Technology in the Egyptian Sugar Cane Industry (1890-1910)
Taylor Moore
University of California, Santa Barbara

In March of 1897, German sugar scientist, Walter Tiemann, broke ground on his experimental cane fields in Sheikh el-Fadl, Upper Egypt. He was presented with a difficult task—to find a strain and/or method of growing sugar cane that would produce an abundant yield despite the primitive planting practices of the Egyptian fellahin (peasantry). Modern machinery eliminated the need for human labor in many aspects of the sugar refining process, with the exception of cane cultivation and menial jobs within the sugar factory. Although agricultural scientists and Egyptian sugar capitalists believed the peasantry’s “old shibboleths and traditional customs” harmed productivity in the cane fields, the fellahin’s laboring bodies—mythologized as born from the mud of the Nile itself—could not be replaced. Race scientists argued that atavistic traits from Pharaonic times resulted in “mechanical” bodies with tacit knowledge that made them the ultimate labor force. This talk reveals how agriculture experts and race scientists theorized the bodies of the Egyptian fellahin as “organic machines” and ancient technologies to justify their role as laborers in both field and factory. Using the case study of the sugar industry, it interrogates the ways in which the body of the Egyptian fellah metaphorically and materially straddled the boundaries between ‘environment’ and ‘technology’ in turn-of-the-century Egypt.

February 26 - Displacements are multiple: investigating the complexity of residential displacement under the real estate state
Revel Sims
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Recent scholarship on eviction has provided new insights on the uneven pattern and disparate consequences of everyday residential displacement through state action. In addition to bringing renewed attention to exploitation and racism in housing markets, this emerging field has also exposed areas of contention around the spatialization of displacement—especially with regard to the process of gentrification. Thus, while some researchers have connected the peripheralization of evicted households to demographic shifts in gentrifying central urban neighborhoods, others have provided contrary evidence showing that eviction is a concentrated, repetitive phenomenon that occurs in areas characterized more by the persistence of precarity and segregation rather than the revalorization of land markets. Based on findings from research on displacement in three urban locations, I argue that “displacements are multiple” involving both the change of people in space as well as the transformation of space around people.

March 5 - Surviving La Pandemia y el Estado: Latinx Immigrant Families and Community Responses to COVID-19 and the State
Almita A. Miranda
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the devastating effects of longstanding racial, economic, and health inequalities in the U.S. Latinxs are among the most affected groups—three times more likely to be infected by the virus, and twice as likely to die from it compared to white Americans. Many of these disparities have been attributed to the exposure of Latinxs in the essential workforce, a lack of healthcare access, as well as income and housing inequities. In this talk, I will focus on the effects of COVID-19 on Latinx immigrant households in the Chicago area, drawing on qualitative data collected through “remote ethnography,” virtual interviews, and social media analysis. I aim to complement some of the reported statistical data by showing how Latinx families have responded locally not only to the health crisis, but to government inaction, and in some cases, outright discrimination in recovery efforts. For many of these families, surviving the pandemic has also meant surviving the state by relying on community networks, grassroots organizing, and virtual communication. These types of localized networks will continue to be important during the vaccination campaigns, as some individuals are distrustful of the new vaccines, putting in jeopardy future efforts to slow the spread of the virus among the most vulnerable groups.

March 12 - A 2000-year Isotopic Reconstruction of Sea-surface Temperature, and Human Responses to Climate Change in Northwestern Alaska
Jason Miszaniec
University of Wisconsin - Madison

In this presentation I will discuss my proposed postdoctoral research on the application of archaeological fish remains to reconstruct past sea surface temperature, and its effects on past fish, animal, and human communities in Norton Sound, Alaska. As a transition zone between the North Pacific Ocean and the Arctic waters of the Chukchi Sea, the Bering Sea is an important area for monitoring long-term climate change. Archaeological investigations in the Norton Sound revealed well-preserved anthropogenically produced animal bone deposits extending back at least 2,000-2,500 years. Among species targeted, Saffron cod (Eleginus garcilis) were extremely important to the preindustrial Indigenous fisheries of the region. Through morphometric and isotopic analysis this research will: 1) Retrace how global climate changes in the Late Holocene manifested locally in Western Alaska, 2) Assess the impacts that changing temperatures had on marine productivity, 3) Understand the relationship between temperature and animal communities in the past, 4) Understand how climate change influenced past human societies of the region, 5) Reconstruct past saffron cod growth rates to comprehend the impacts of climate change on fish populations.

March 19 - Maroon Land and Legacy: An (Im)Perfect Monument to Black Struggle *Traecy Lecture*
Alex A. Moulton
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The late spring and summer of 2020 saw widespread outcry against the murder of George Floyd. The chilling death of another Black man at the hands of police officers re-ignited criticism of the normalized violence and systemic racism that permeates the lives of Black people globally. In the U.S. and the United Kingdom, activists called for a racial reckoning that entailed the removal of monuments to white supremacists and colonialist whose fortunes had been made through the trade of Black people as chattel property. These discussions were a reminder that monuments have always been about power. Particularly, the power of memorialization and the power to memorialize. The removal of statues by local authorities or their destruction by activists served as immediate and highly symbolic acts of dismantling routinized Black oppression. These empty pedestals are not by themselves sufficient in countering the denigration of invisibilization of Black humanity and freedom struggle. Black monuments are needed. In this talk, propose considering the Blue and John Crow Mountains and Cockpit Country as arboreal monuments to the Black freedom struggle. As the territorial home of the Windward and Leeward Maroons, the character of these spaces has been shaped by the socio-spatial agencies of Black people in resistance to material, spatial, and symbolic colonial violence. Centering the work of the Maroons in the production of these spaces, calls attention to the fraught realities of grand maroonage, whilst grounding the labor of memorialization, negotiation of violent histories, and the constitution of community making in land.

March 26 - Livestock landscapes: Understanding how the production and consumption of meat impacts antibiotic resistant health outcomes in humans *Miriam Kerndt Memorial Lecture*
Margaret Carrel
University of Iowa

The emergence and spread of drug resistant forms of Staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), has major health implications in the US and globally. Drug resistant S. aureus is commonly found in intensive livestock production settings, particularly of hogs. Using geographic techniques, we can understand how rural residence or livestock contact increases the risk of drug resistant S. aureus colonization and infection and how contact with meat contaminated with S. aureus can potentially transfer the bacteria into urban households. Spatial analysis also helps to determine who bears the greatest burden of exposure to the negative effects of livestock production. By combining analytic methods from geography, epidemiology and ecology we can start to piece together the people and places in which drug resistant S. aureus can transfer from livestock to humans.

April 16 - Mobility Analytics for Transportation and Human Health
Kathleen Stewart
University of Maryland

In this talk I will discuss some recent research on mobility, i.e., the movement of people, that is relevant for researchers interested in transportation as well as human health, where the movement of individuals has the capacity to influence and impact different health outcomes. With the ubiquity of location-aware mobile devices, new opportunities exist to capture travel activity patterns as they dynamically evolve and change, providing key insights for how people move, and providing an opportunity for us to learn about the behaviors of individuals in different geographic contexts. Examples based on analyzing collective movements of vehicles on roads from location-based app data and massive numbers of travel trajectories to more local scale mobility arising from the daily travel of individuals based on different occupations will be presented and the different analytic approaches – from big geospatial data analytics to simulation–will be discussed.

April 23 - Mapping before, and without, ‘Cartography’
Matthew H. Edney
University of Wisconsin - Madison

What is a map? After four decades of debate, map scholars have yet to answer this question to their common satisfaction, which suggests that they are perhaps asking the wrong question. We can instead answer another question: what is cartography? Cartography appears to be the universal, transcultural endeavor of mapmaking. Yet this conception emerged only in the nineteenth century as an idealization—an inadequate description and model—of actual mapping practices. Moreover, an ongoing post-representational critique has yet to dispel the ideal’s culturally hegemonic status. Coeditor (with Mary Pedley) of the newly published Cartography in the European Enlightenment, Volume 4 of the award-winning History of Cartography series, Edney explores how to write the history of cartography before the formulation of the ideal of cartography, and how this approach reconfigures the study of mapping processes today without further succumbing to the ideal and its inherent flaws.