Yi-Fu Tuan Lecture Archive Fall 2021

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://go.wisc.edu/l880yf  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.

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, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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  8 – The Morphology of Alluvial Sand Dunes

Julia Cisneros, National Science Foundation

In big rivers, we show that dunes have complex shapes with low-angle lee sides and heights that are much smaller, with respect to flow depth, than previous research has indicated. Despite decades of research concerning alluvial bedforms, we still lack a complete understanding of how these complexities link to the controlling mechanisms of formation and dune kinematics, which are influenced by changes in flow dynamics and sediment transport. Recent work suggests several key processes may control the formation of low-angle and complex dune shapes: dune superimposition, sediment suspension, bedform three-dimensionality, and liquefied avalanche flows generated on the dune leeside. These various hypothesized controls require that we focus on the links between the conditions of formation and dune morphology across a wide range of laboratory flows, as well as shallow and deep natural flows. This method is essential to fully understand the importance of these processes and their respective dominance in forming the complex shapes typical of natural alluvial dunes. This talk will highlight research that aims to investigate dune formation and dune shape in big and small rivers and in shallow laboratory flows. This investigation allows the comparison and validation of the key processes controlling the formation of low-angle dunes. I then identify and discuss the conditions when one process may dominate in creating complex dune shapes. This talk highlights the balance between bedform superimposition and sediment suspension as controls on the formation of low-angle dunes. This information is vital to improving our approach to managing contemporary rivers under modern stressors and revealing the deposits of ancient rivers.


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.

November 19 – CPACC

Lydia Roussos, Promega Corporation

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront issues of health and access. Within the educational sphere, issues of spatial and virtual accessibility have emerged as pressing concerns. With this in mind, this presentation addresses (1) various approaches to disability and the politics of access (2) basic principles of universal design and (3) best practices for engaging and advancing accessible teaching, learning, and coworking.

December 3 – Affective Heritage and the Politics of Memory after 9/11: Curating Trauma at the Memorial Museum

Jacque Micieli-Voutsinas, University of Florida

Memorial Museums are evocative spaces. Drawing on aesthetic practices deeply rooted in representing the ‘unrepresentability’ of cultural trauma, most notably the Holocaust, Memorial Museums are powerful, popular mediums for establishing cultural values, asking the visitor to contemplate “Who am I?” in relation to the difficult histories on display. This lecture critically examines the institutional curation of traumatic memory at the National September 11th Memorial & Museum and its evocative power as a cultural storyteller. Unpacking the methodological process of documenting affective heritage at the mnemonic site, I argue that the procurement of ‘9/11 memory’ vis-à-vis more-than-representational modes of embodiment operate as highly illusive extensions of the site’s curatorial power. Detailing autoethnography, participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and visitor studies as a means to triangulate and evaluate the formation of ‘emotional learning’ at the museological site, this lecture poses important questions about the emotionally charged site: what ‘moral lessons’ are visitors imparted with at the 9/11 Memorial Museum? Who is the cultural institution’s primary audience—the imagined community it reconstructs this traumatic history and safeguards its memories for? What does the 9/11 Memorial & Museum ultimately teach visitors about history, ourselves, and others?