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.

Spring 2020 Lectures

January 31 - Risky subjects: vulnerability and uncertainty in the global pesticide boom
Annie Shattuck
Indiana University

Globally, pesticide use is increasing significantly faster than food production. The vast majority of the world's food producers depend on pesticides, and most of those users live in the global south. I present data from Northern Laos, until recently among the world's lowest per capita pesticide users, to explore the everyday life of pesticides and commodity agriculture as it transforms forests, local livelihoods and health. Using oral histories, and socio-economic surveys, I look at the relationship between modern agriculture, vulnerability, and deforestation as old forest-based safety nets are ploughed under for maize to feed growing meat consumption in China and Vietnam. I interrogate the diverse -- and divergent -- set of partial knowledges among pesticide users, and ask how small scale farmers' direct experiences of toxicity both reinforce and transgress the international model for safe use. I describe the ways that what counts as 'risky' and 'safe' is locally adapted, filtered through rural community dynamics, and bound up with the other risks farmers are facing - the risks of living at the precarious end of a global commodity chain.

February 7 - Data science approaches to improve water prediction and communication at the U.S. Geological Survey
Jordan Read
U.S. Geological Survey

Data growth and computational advances have created new opportunities to improve water resource predictions and the delivery of water information to managers and the public. The U.S. Geological Survey's Water Data Science Branch has three primary goals: 1) improve predictions by combining theory-based models with machine learning, 2) create raw-data to decision-ready workflows that are reproducible, 3) share insights with innovative and thoughtful data visualizations. This talk will focus on the development and application of "process-guided deep learning" towards predicting water temperatures in surface waters. PGDLs are hybrid models that integrate process understanding into advanced machine learning modeling techniques; research on PGDLs and other hybrid modeling approaches continues to be a major research component of the USGS Water Data Science Branch.

February 14 - Lady Dynamite's Spatialization of Bipolar Disorder
Marcia England
Miami University, Oxford

Depictions of those with mental health issues often frame them in terms of pathology and deficit. However, the neurodiverse may have other ways to frame their experiences and understandings of 'reality'. Loosely autobiographical (based on the life of comedian Maria Bamford), Lady Dynamite explores the everyday and fantastical aspects of living with bipolar disorder. The Netflix series navigates the spaces of bipolar disorder (both mania and depression) in its episodes and depicts bipolar disorder as complex, yet manageable, rather than something to fear. This series is a critical narrative to help in understandings of the lived experience of those with neurodiversity. Scenes within the show illustrate the complicated workings of bipolar minds and often depict hallucinations (that once were private) as a shared visual between the show and audience. Institutionalized spaces are juxtaposed with surreal spaces to disrupt traditional narratives of time and space. The series and its depiction of mental health changes the script on bipolar disorder by focusing on normalcy of the protagonist's life. As such, this portrayal of mental illness demonstrates a new and positive way to discuss visual manifestations and norming of bipolar disorder.

February 21 - Mapping and data visualization at The Washington Post
Lauren Tierney
The Washington Post

At the Washington Post, reporters across the newsroom cover an array of topics, from politics to climate change to natural disasters, all of which involve conveying complex information to a broad audience. How this reporting is communicated, through text, graphics and maps, or photo and video, makes all the difference in disseminating reporters' findings. Graphics reporter and cartographer Lauren Tierney will discuss how the graphics team at the Post utilizes the power of visuals to communicate complex data and concepts to readers, using maps, graphics, and illustrations. She will also demonstrate how the graphics team works with scientists and experts from a variety of academic fields to communicate research visually to a broad audience.

February 28 - Defending Psychic Space: Blues Club Patrons Strike Out
David Wilson
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Blues clubs today in Chicago's largely African-American, poor South Side feel the winds of transformation as the city's redevelopment frontier moves through this city section. Yet this calculated foray to transform the city's poorest, most neglected, and stigmatized blocks and clubs is being met with a sly, subterranean resistance. My talk chronicles this resistance, focusing on the realities of a paradigmatic South Side club, Beebe's. Long-term patrons, in particular, work through poverty and de-humanization at every turn to constitute a coveted club and social space using multiple, interconnecting templates (material concerns, race-class identity-making, the drive for social enrichment). They seek to build space and personhood here in response to a major force: to chase away haunts that have been structured by historically persistent regimes of socio-spatial isolation, identity afflicting, human containment to shadowy city sections, and their recent placement within punishing neoliberal sensibilities. The results take us beyond the now standard story of such redevelopment machines as being blunt producers of redevelopment and equally important, as engaging power-bereft people on the ground.

March 6 - Civic Colonialism: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Municipal Annexation in Arizona
Anthony Pratcher II
Carnegie Mellon University

Scholars have overlooked how urban annexation drove the development of the metropolitan Sunbelt in the American Southwest after World War II. A case study on civic life in 20th century Phoenix shows how Anglo elites utilized municipal annexation to maintain colonial relationships with racialized communities in the surrounding agricultural hinterland. Working-class Anglo settlers, along with racial minorities and non-white immigrants, were largely excluded from participation in civic activities as Anglo elites fought to remove these residents to the metropolitan periphery. Still, civic elites could only extend their political control as far as the city borders, so after Phoenix voters approved major postwar municipal bonds, civic elites annexed surrounding areas so that Charter (the municipal political machine) could dictate development along the metropolitan periphery. While metropolitan Phoenix enticed affluent homeowners with modern amenities and tolerable taxes, city officials engaged in ruthless chicanery to convert, cajole, or coerce consent for annexation petitions from right-wing populists. In contrast, Charter disenfranchised racialized residents to reduce resistance to annexation in segregated communities. By 1960, just as in dozens of other Sunbelt cities across the nation, municipal annexation allowed civic elites to amalgamate the metropolitan periphery into their municipality. Metropolitan Phoenix, along with the broader American Sunbelt, exists due to municipal annexation. This talk shows how this policy should be understood as a facet within a longer a historical continuum of settler colonialism in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands.

March 27 - How sensitive are tropical African mountains to climate change?
Jim Russell
Brown University

During the last century, tropical African mountain glaciers have lost more than 90% of their surface area in response to climate warming. Given present trends, we expect these glaciers to disappear within the next few decades. How much have African glaciers and mountain temperatures varied in the past, what were the impacts of these changes on mountain landscapes and ecosystems, and what might these past variations portend for the future? This talk will present new reconstructions of climate, mapping and dating of past glacial extents, and reconstructions of ecosystem processes from the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda-D.R.C. to address these questions.

April 3 - Folding The Map on Segregation
Tonika Johnson - Miriam Kerndt Lecture Speaker
Chicago, Illinois

Break down invisible barriers with social justice artist and photographer Tonika Johnson. She'll share how she uses her creativity to explore urban segregation and the richness of the Black community. Tonika Johnson is a visual artist and photographer from Chicago's South Side Englewood neighborhood. In 2010, she helped co-found Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.) and now she serves as its full-time Program Manager. She was featured in Chicago Magazine as a 2017 Chicagoan of the Year. Her work has been featured at Rootwork Gallery in Pilsen, the Chicago Cultural Center, Harold Washington Library Center, and the Chicago Reader. Her latest multi-media project titled "Folded Map" illustrates Chicago's residential segregation.

April 17 - Mapping Urban Lesbian and Queer Lines of Desire as Constellations
Jack Gieseking - Tracey Lecture Speaker
University of Kentucky

The path to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) liberation has been narrated through a claim to long-term territory in the form of urban neighborhoods and bars. Lesbians and queers fail to attain or retain these spaces over generations - as is often the case due to lesser political and economic power - so what then is the lesbian-queer production of urban space in their own words? Drawing on interviews, archival research, and data visualizations with and about lesbians and queers in New York City from 1983 to 2009, my participants queered the fixed, neighborhood models of LGBTQ space inproducing what I call constellations. Like stars in the sky, contemporary urban lesbians and queers often create and rely on fragmented, fleeting experiences in lesbian-queer places, evoking patterns based on generational, racialized, and classed identities. Lesbians and queers are connected by overlapping, embodied paths and stories that bind them over generations and across many identities, like drawing lines between the stars that come and go in the sky. This queer feminist contribution to critical urban theory extends current models of queering and producing urban space.

April 24 - 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.

May 1 - Remote sensing of permafrost degradation in the Alaskan Arctic
Mark J. Lara
University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign

Arctic regions have experienced unprecedented climate warming over the past several decades, as well as record-setting rates of disturbance processes such as wildfires, permafrost degradation, and shrub expansion. A growing body of evidence suggests dynamic interactions and feedbacks exist among Arctic disturbance regimes. However, the interdependence of these disturbances over space and time makes quantifying their impact challenging, yet paramount for improving our predictive capacity as climate change and disturbance regimes intensify. I will present recent results successfully characterizing decadal patterns, trends, and controls on various pathways of permafrost degradation (i.e. thermokarst) across the Arctic in northern Alaska.