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/meeting/96338211541 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.


Fall 2021 Lectures

September 17 - Co-Producing Climate Change Narratives: An Ethnographic Account from Nan Province, Northern Thailand
Chaya Vaddhanaphuti
Chiang Mai University

What does climate change mean for Thai people and which ways are they expected to respond? Over the past few years witnessed a number of climate change narratives being constructed by various groups, be they governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as the Thai public. For science-driven organisations, global climate change needs to be monitored, predicted and controlled; for policy-driven organisations, climate change is a result of eroding Thai traditions and a new opportunity for sustainable development; and for community-based organisations, climate change makes voices of the local heard, and helps them seek environmental and political justice. Since there is no one single meaning of climate in Thailand (or anywhere), I discuss to what extent these framings of climate change might matter or make sense to the local people of the Northern Thailand whose weather was constituted in the their cultural-religious-supernatural interpretations, and whose priority is not at all about reducing greenhouse gas emission reduction like what many organisations are after. There are two implications. First, climate change in Thailand has become a fleeting, boundless hybrid of linguistic and graphical interpretations, policies, mathematical equations, lay people, experts, natural and supernatural beings. Second, as different kinds of climate knowledges meet, one needs to make sure that sensibilities and memories of personal weather stories must not be lost in the totalizing idea of climate reductionism, since human imagination and creativity are essential resource for opening up new ways to thinking and responding to our changing climates.

October 1 - Mapping Human Mobility Changes and Geospatial Modeling of COVID-19 Spread (*In-person Lecture: 180 Science Hall*)
Song Gao

To contain the COVID-19 spread, one of the nonpharmaceutical interventions is physical (social) distancing. An interactive web-based mapping platform, which provides up-to-date mobility and close-contact proxy information using large-scale anonymized mobile phone location data in the US, was developed and maintained by the GeoDS Lab at UW-Madison. Using the multiscale human mobility origin-to-destination flow data, a novel mobility-augmented epidemic model was further developed to help analyze the COVID-19 spread dynamics at multiple geographical scales (e.g., state, county, and neighborhood), inform public health policy, and deepen our understanding of human behavior under the unprecedented public health crisis.

October 15 - Cartographic Memory: Social Movement Activism and the Production of Space
Juan Herrera
University of California, Los Angeles

In this presentation I examine 1960s and 1970s Chicanx activism in Oakland, CA. I underscore how activists remembered their social movement participation by emphasizing their deep emotional connections with neighborhood projects. In so doing, they intricately mapped their contribution to neighborhood improvement. I contend that the fact that activists remembered their work in geographic form opens up a broader register for how we measure social movement impacts. By seriously considering cultural politics rooted and routed through place, I elaborate a theoretical and methodological understanding of space as archive of social movement activism.

October 22 - The Difference Between a Mine and a Woman : Gendered Relations of Kinship and Care in Amazonian Gold Mines
Ruth Goldstein
University of Wisconsin-Madison

This talk begins by examining an unfortunate riddle about mines and women, which came as a constant refrain in the gold mines of Peru’s Amazonian region of Madre de Dios (Mother of God). The fall of the United States dollar and the international rise in the price of gold coincided with the paving of the first road – the Interoceanic – through the tri-frontier region of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia. The road has facilitated artisanal gold mining and an international traffic in people and plants, as well as minerals. Peru is now the world’s sixth largest producer of gold and the top exporter of cocaine. Drawing on how the difference between women and mines became a circulating riddle, this talk conducts an analysis of the sets of relations in which women and “Nature” occupy the same category of exploitation. Men, however, as well as women, find themselves in extractive labor conditions in artisanal mining camps, immersing their bodies in toxic liquid mercury to harness the gold. While the Peruvian State pitches the gold mines as sexually, morally, and ecologically damaged, sex-workers and gold miners form associations that unite funds to care for the sick, the wounded, and the pregnant. In examining the convergence of indigenous communities, gold miners, and sex workers around mercury as a life-giving or life-killing substance, contested constellations of care and kinship emerge around toxic exposure.

October 29 - Improving soil health for more efficient nitrogen use and retention in agroecosystems
Lisa K. Tiemann
Michigan State University

Much of the recent research efforts focused on improving soil health have focused on soil organic matter (SOM) or more specifically, soil organic carbon (SOC) accrual while nitrogen (N) storage and provisioning has been somewhat overlooked. Soil microorganisms play the central role in controlling plant available N through N uptake and immobilization, N-mineralization and N-fixation. I will discuss the effects of recommended management practices and implications of improving soil health on soil N cycling processes controlling plant N availability, productivity and yield. In my lab’s research we have found relationships between interseeded cover crops as well as cover crop diversity and N-cycling process rates. Specifically, we’ve seen that cover crops tend to increase N retention and reduce mineralization and other N losses (e.g. gaseous losses through denitrification), and that organic N can be an important indicator of soil health and crop N availability. Additionally, we have determined that perennial bioenergy cropping systems can be strongly dependent on N-fixation rather than mineralization. However, we are only starting to understand some of the controls on non-symbiotic N-fixation in soils, including soil mineralogy and precipitation regimes. Overall, I will show that N provisioning, a critical soil service, can be optimized to some extent through management practices aimed at improving soil health.