Yi-Fu Tuan Lectures

Yi-Fu TuanThe 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 right) 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 2017 Lectures

Hilary Hungerford - Treacy Lecture5 May – Migrants as Infrastructure: Governance, Livelihoods, and Urban Futures in Niamey, Niger

  • Hilary Hungerford - Treacy Lecture
  • Utah Valley University

In his 2004 essay People As Infrastructure, AbdouMaliq Simone argued that though African cities may have weak systems of physical infrastructures (like paved roads, water pipes, electricity), they have “flexible, mobile, and provisional intersections” of social infrastructures that make “expanded spaces of economic and cultural operation available to residents of limited means” (407).  The challenge brought to us through Simone’s essay is to re-read the city from below, and to make the city legible through understanding how marginalized groups “provide for and reproduce life in the city” (408).  In this spirit, this talk offers a reading of Niamey, Niger through the lives of poor migrants living in spontaneous settlements across the city.  Seasonal migration has long been a livelihood strategy in the Sahel, but due to the increasing challenges of climate change, environment, and security across the region we now we see more urban migration, longer stays and more females migrants to Niamey.  This talk explores this group of migrants as infrastructure.  Examinations of migration decisions, livelihoods in the city, returns to the village, and thoughts on the city reveal how the city is shaped by the rural, social practices of infrastructure, visions of urban modernity, climate change, and international security discourse.  

Cindi Katz28 April – Trace Memory Erasure Return: Biography, History, and the Geographical Imagination, Bronx and Detroit

  • Cindi Katz
  • City University of New York

Working across discrepant and simultaneous time-spaces, the lecture will take in the fierce place attachments, ruins, absences, and ambitions of the Bronx and Detroit; radical productions of geographical knowledge in both places; and trace the effects of accumulation by dispossession and how they might be countered by a new imagination and praxis of renewal. 

Nancy Peluso21 April – The Remittance Forest: Turning Mobile Labor into Agrarian Capital

  • Nancy Peluso
  • University of California - Berkeley

How does labor migration affect Southeast Asian forests?  Political forests and agroforests in Indonesia have been declining rapidly as millions of hectares are given over to industrial plantations and mines, aggravating rural labor surpluses and increasing rates of domestic and transnational migration.  In the mountains of Java, where such plantations and political forests date back to government land grabs in the nineteenth century, forests are being reconstituted and reconfigured by unusual subjects: the daughters and wives of contracted forest workers and other forest villagers.  Working as transnational domestic laborers in Hong Kong and other prosperous Asian cities, these landless women are sending remittances home that are being invested in rural resources dependent in new ways on the forest for their production.  Forest ecologies, household and village economies, and gendered labor and land relations are being transformed in radical and unexpected ways and changing power relations as well as the distribution of access to and benefits from this mountain forest.   

Raoni Rajao31 March – Fighting for the future: Competing Land-use Models in the History of Protected Areas in the Amazon

  • Raoni Rajao
  • Federal University of Minas Gerais

Geographers and more recently science and technology scholars have recognized the role of maps, remote sensing imagery and land-use models in not only representing but also governing the territory. As a consequence, these spatial representations have started to be studies not only for their epistemological aspects (i.e in/visibilities and their consequences) but also for the ways in which they perform the world in specific ways. Drawing upon this ongoing debate, this study examines the different land-use models that have shaped the creation of protected areas in the Amazon from the 1970s to the present. In particular, it shows that foresters, soil experts, veterinarians and more recently, biologists and simulation modelers have supported and fostered specific visions of both the present and the future of the Amazon. This examination indicates the central role of science and technology in both the colonization (and destruction) of the rainforest and the attempts to protect it. Furthermore, it reveals how the visions of the future embedded in these land-use models have been shaping the region in the last four decades.

Nick Blomley17 February – Property, Precarity, and Power

  • Nick Blomley
  • Simon Fraser University

Property law structures relations of access and use; private property protects access to some while denying access to others. In that sense, property is of constitutional significance: it constitutes a social order, for better or for worse. I suggest that one way in which we can assess the constitutional work of property, both analytically and ethically, is in relation to a particular conception of 'legal precarity’. By this, I mean the ways in which many people have a ‘precarious’ access to property, governed by property relations that are 'liable to changed or lost at the pleasure or will of another'. I use this to consider the relationship between housing, poverty, and property law, focusing on the particular legal actions of eviction and trespass. 

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe10 February – Soil Erosion Controls on Bulk and Pyrogenic Carbon Dynamics

  • Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
  • University of California - Merced

Erosion of topsoil, and associated bulk soil organic matter (SOM) and pyrogenic carbon (PyC) impose significant controls on dynamics of SOM in eroding, dynamic landscapes. As of yet, the relative lateral distribution and export of bulk SOM vs. PyC from eroding upland, fire-affected forested ecosystems has been poorly quantified. The extent of both bulk and PyC erosion from eroding watersheds depends on SOM concentration, composition and stability in eroding slope profiles, the type and rate of erosion, and time since and severity of past fires. In this presentation I will discuss how and why erosion affects soil carbon dynamics and the interactive effects of fire and erosion in dynamic fire-adapted landscapes in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. 

Christy Clark-Pujara3 February – Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island

  • Christy Clark-Pujara
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison

In Dark Work, I use an economic lens to tell a social history. I investigate how the business of slavery shaped the establishment and growth of slavery in the North, and how financial investments in black bondage affected the process of emancipation and black freedom in the new American Republic. I define the business of slavery as economic activity that was directly related to the maintenance of slaveholding in the Americas, specifically the buying and selling of people, food, and goods. Rhode Island is an ideal place to study the impact of the business of slavery because it is both exemplary and exceptional. Like their northern neighbors, Rhode Island¬ers bought and sold people and supplies that kept plantations in the Americas thriving; however, they were the most deeply invested. White Rhode Islanders’ economic investments in the business of slavery bolstered the expansion of race-based slavery, slowed the emancipation process, and circumscribed black freedom.


Yi Fu Tuan lecture archive

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