University of Wisconsin–Madison

Yi-Fu Tuan Lecture Archive

Yi-Fu Tuan in a classroom

The 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 left) 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 2008 Lectures

September 12 - "Urban Greening: Eco-amenities and socioecological contradictions in the New Chicago"
Jeff Zimmerman
UW-Whitewater Geography Department

This presentation applies the urban political ecology approach to critically assess specific amendments to Chicago's built environment launched by the city over the course of the last five years. Today's talk is divided into three sections. The first describes the multiple initiatives that worked to operationalize the local state's project of urban sustainability, including green roofs, natural landscaping, and green production technologies. The second section interrogates these schemes more thoroughly and demonstrates how the fundamental infrastructures of the emerging Green Chicago serve primarily the interests of the city's elite and the broader growth imperative. Finally, the presentation will show how the greening of Chicago's urban terrain actually works to deepen the topography of socioecological injustice across the already fragmented spaces of the city.

September 19 - Creationism goes Global: Changing Geographies of Creationism and Intelligent Design
Ronald Numbers
UW-Madison, History of Science


September 26 - Fair Trade Wine: South Africa's Post-Apartheid Vineyards and the Global Economy
William (Bill) Moseley
Macalester College, Geography Department

The history of unfair labor practices in South Africa's wine industry is as old as the sector itself, dating back to the 17th century. The situation, however, has begun to slowly change since the fall of Apartheid in 1994. While the South African wine industry is still largely white-owned, the country's major wine production zone (the Western Cape) is now dotted with a variety of black-owned and black co-owned vineyards that are Fair Trade certified or marketing their wines as worker produced or black owned. This study explores these various arrangements (Fair Trade, worker-produced and black-owned), and their connections to local and international wine markets In particular, it examines the potential of these arrangements to create real change in labor conditions and the welfare of historically disadvantaged farm workers. In comparison to other agricultural sectors in South Africa, the wine industry is an especially interesting case because of its economic importance, growing export potential and history of white dominance.

October 10 - Some geostatistical issues in estimating and mapping climate and climatic change from weather-station records
Cort Willmott
University of Delaware, Geography Department

Several interrelated geostatistical and mapping issues are examined. Competing model-fit and model-performance measures of average error are evaluated and compared first. Often-used approaches to the spatial/geographic interpolation of weather-station (climate) data onto a regular grid then are examined. Subtopics of this examination include: planar versus spherically based interpolators; “traditional” and “smart” interpolators; and evaluating interpolator accuracy and precision, primarily via spatial cross-validation. Some deleterious influences of observational network biases on the spatial interpolation of climate fields are considered as well. Recommendations are made about preferred ways to report interpolator and map reliability as well as the use of an appropriate (equal area) map projection. Three examples from “our” research are used to illustrate central points. Competing estimates of ten-year (1991-2000) average air temperature (T ) over Earth’s land surface, made alternately with traditional and DEM-assisted interpolators, are evaluated and compared. Assessments of changing station-network biases on estimated average T and precipitation (P ) over Earth’s land surfaces also are presented. Sets of estimates, made with traditional and DEM-assisted interpolators, of long-term average T and air-temperature change across the Arctic land surface are compared as well.

October 17 - The Good Inherit the Earth
Yi Fu Tuan
UW-Madison, Geography Department


October 24 - Historical Climatology and Atlantic Basin Hurricanes
Cary Mock
University of South Carolina, Geography Department

Historical climatology has a unique perspective, with climatologists using archival materials and historical methods in their research. Research themes include the reconstruction of past climate prior to modern instrumental records as well as assessing historical climate impacts on society. This presentation describes a general description of the field from a American perspective, referring to case studies done by the author. The presentation includes a focus on reconstructing Atlantic hurricanes and impacts back to the mid eighteenth century, the associated potential climatic forcing mechanisms, and implications concerning the hurricane/climate change debate.

November 7 - Integrating Social Network Analysis and Spatial Analysis to Model the Diffusion of War
Colin Flint
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Geography

The concept of ConflictSpace is introduced to facilitate the systematic analysis of interstate conflict data. Building upon relational theories of power, the spatiality of conflict is identified as a combination of territorial and network embeddedness. The former is modeled through spatial analysis and the latter by social network analysis. A brief empirical example of the spread of World War I illustrates how the position of states within physical and network spaces explain their roles within a broader geography of territorial settings and network relations.

November 14 - Complexities in citizen participation and spatial knowledge production in inner-city neighborhoods of Milwaukee
Rina Ghose
UW-Milwaukee, Geography

POSTPONED UNTIL SPRING Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) research agenda has explored the issue of equitable access and use of GIS and spatial data, among traditionally marginalized citizens, in order to facilitate effective citizen participation in inner-city revitalization activities. However, research indicates that PPGIS is a complex process, with uneven outcomes. This research presentation will explore the complexities embedded within the participation and spatial knowledge production process for inner-city neighborhood based community organizations. Using a theoretical framework drawn from political economy, this presentation explores the process of citizen participation within neoliberal collaborative planning process in inner-city Milwaukee. GIS is commonly used to produce spatial knowledge for neighborhood planning. Networks of association evolve to connect multiple actors from public and private sectors with community organizations, to provide opportunities of spatial knowledge production and participation. These networks contain structural inequities, hierarchical dominance and fluctuating resources. But these networks also transcend political boundaries and are dynamic and flexible. In trying to control the revitalization agendas and the material resources required for it, the actors and community organizations construct politics of scale. For some community organizations, such scalar politics and creative alliances with critical actors allow them to skillfully navigate territorially-scaled networks of power in order to gain an effective voice in decision-making activities. But other community organizations lag behind, and are not able to form relationships in order to secure their urban space.

November 21 - Latex and Blood: Toward a Visual Economy of Science, Commerce, and American Empire
Gregg Mittman
UW-Madison History of Medicine, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies