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.

Fall 2016 Lectures

National Geographic30 September – Faculty and Graduate Students Grant Session

  • National Geographic

In lieu of an Yi-Fu Tuan talk, National Geographic will be here to share current funding opportunities for research, conservation and exploration projects. Learn more...

Eric Carter7 October – The Health of the People: A History of Latin American Social Medicine

  • Eric Carter
  • Macalester College

This talk previews findings from a book project on the development of Latin American social medicine, supported by historical research in Argentina, Chile, and Costa Rica. This project sheds light on the ideological roots of social medicine, traces the development of the health-related social sciences in Latin America, situates them in a dynamic geopolitical context, and explains how social medicine ideas translate into policy. This talk will focus particularly on analyzing Salvador Allende's 1939 book The Socio-Medical Reality of Chile to explain potential contributions of the study of Latin American social medicine to health geography and related fields.

Jessi Lehman14 October – The Ocean Archive: Querying the Geographies of History

  • Jessi Lehman
  • UW-Madison

The advent of the Anthropocene concept has prompted a fundamental question: how does the Earth remember? And what does the memory of the Earth have to say about humanity as a species, despite (or because) of its many differences and inequalities? The geologic archive has captured many geographers’ minds, but the ocean contains other possibilities for understanding the nature of planetary history. Postcolonial writers imagine the ocean as a collector of the histories, bodies, and ways of life that hegemonic historical narratives would rather forget. Scientists also understand the ocean as a kind of record(er), following materials or liquid formations through time to understand ocean dynamics and to trace the harmful impacts of substances such as radioactive isotopes and plastics. In this paper I build on these oddly resonant notions to consider the world ocean as a planetary archive that might prompt us to reassess the geographies of history.

Rich Schein21 October – Historical Geographies for the Present: Stories of Race in Everyday Landscapes

  • Rich Schein
  • University of Kentucky

This talk posits the cultural landscape as foundational to racial formation in the US, and suggests the potential to intervene through landscape in addressing racist practice as a “social wrong.” It will tell stories of particular contemporary landscapes to: first, illustrate landscape sedimentations and discursive continuities around racial themes in order to; second, address the potential of landscape to mediate social conflict before; ultimately, asking questions about who gets to tell landscape stories, how we tell them, who belongs, and what different questions we might ask if we listen to different voices. The talk moves between landscape as an object and landscape as a method for how we negotiate and live in the racialized world.

No photo available28 October – Social Media for Academics

  • John Lucas, Dominique Brossard, Kris Olds, Jack Williams, & Jacquelyn Gill
  • UW - Madison & University of Maine

A panel discussion on how academics can use social media to engage in broader public debates. Led by John Lucas (Assistant Vice Chancellor for University Communications), Dominique Brossard (Life Science Communications), Kris Olds (Geography), Jack Williams (Geography), and Jacquelyn Gill (University of Maine–School of Biology and Ecology).

Amy Myrbo4 November – Consequences of Elevated Sulfate Discharge to Fresh Surface Waters

  • Amy Myrbo
  • University of Minnesota

Sulfate is a relatively benign ion, but even low concentrations can lead to phytotoxic sulfide accumulation in sediment porewaters.  Sulfate reduction is often considered to be of minimal importance in freshwater systems, but can support "extra" mineralization of organic matter in anaerobic environments, with consequences for ecosystem health and stability.  Organic matter decomposition returns a number of compounds to the water column that would otherwise be sequestered in the sediments: nitrogen, phosphorous, and mercury; and generates dissolved organic carbon and alkalinity that can alter ecosystem structure.  This study is part of the State of Minnesota's investigation of the biogeochemistry behind the observed negative relationship between surface water sulfate and the distribution of wild rice, a culturally significant resource to many Native Americans, and Minnesota's state grain. 

Dr. Rob Roth11 November – Cartography in Science Hall: 75 Years of Making Maps that Matter in 180 Science Hall

  • Dr. Rob Roth
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison

Call me biased, but I think Science Hall is the best place to study Cartography worldwide! I also think right now is the best time to study Cartography! Mapping now encapsulates a range of analytical, computational, and design skills; the cartographer is Exhibit A against the left-brained/right-brained construct. Further, mapping as a career is flourishing. As job opportunities are growing, however, so too are opportunities to apply mapping to the most pressing geographic problems of our time, to make maps that matter. In this short talk, I will provide a whirlwind tour through the history of Cartography in Science Hall and showcase several recent Science Hall projects to illustrate the value of mapping for geographic inquiry and understanding today.

Dr. Matt Turner11 November – Addressing gaps of knowledge and representation: Participatory mapping in Senegal

  • Dr. Matt Turner
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison

In the United States, we are surrounded by maps of various forms. In much of the rest of the world, maps are novel and potent political instruments for both resource control/exclusion and emancipatory development. In this talk, I will describe a UW Geography project to facilitate local land-use planning efforts in eastern Senegal. . In eastern Senegal, the research team collected information about thousands of these features and they have been incorporated into a web-based “wiki map” which allows users to add data, comment on their placement and characteristics, download data, and print flat maps to facilitate community meetings. While farmer and herder participation in the creation of this map is not direct (due their lack of access to and knowledge of internet) but mediated by the UW team initially and subsequently by local NGOs and community leaders, the approach shows significant promise to facilitate greater participation by rural residents in defining rules of access and control.

Sheri Fritz18 November – The Cenozoic Evolution of Biotic and Geophysical Diversity in the Tropical Andes and Amazon

  • Sheri Fritz
  • University of Nebraska

The forests of tropical South America are among the great centers of biodiversity, hosting over a quarter of all vascular plant species. These forests have evolved together with the physical environment, closely linking Earth history and evolutionary history. The modes of diversity evolution through time and the drivers of evolutionary process have been debated for well over a century, and a variety of geologic and climatic processes have been linked to the evolutionary history of tropical forests. I will review some of the major hypotheses relating tectonic history, fluvial evolution, and climate change to the Cenozoic evolution of biodiversity in the tropical Amazon and Andes, highlighting some of the major uncertainties in common paradigms and some of the potential of new tools for evolving our understanding of biotic and geologic history. 

Annie Menzel2 December – The Epigenetic Politics of Black Infant Mortality: Promises and Perils

  • Annie Menzel
  • Vassar College

Public health and policy researchers, epidemiologists, social scientists, and health activists are increasingly turning to epigenetics--the study of environmentally-linked changes in gene expression that may be passed on intergenerationally without alteration in the DNA sequence--to explain racial disparities in health. In this paper, focusing on responses to the disproportion between Black and white infant mortality in the US, I explore both the promises and the perils of an epigenetically-grounded politics. This approach demonstrates the literal materialization of anti-Black racism in the form of disproportionately vulnerable embodiments within the US polity, potentially grounding an anti-racist “molecular politics” of health; at the same time, at least some policy applications of epigenetic research are also reviving familiar notions of Black maternal pathology and blame in the new language of epigenetics. I suggest that the notion of whiteness as intergenerational pathology might offer a salutary reorientation.

Carolyn Finney9 December – At the Crossroads: Intellectual Ramblings, Emotional Certainties & the Art of the Common Conversation

  • Carolyn Finney
  • University of Kentucky

To honor the all-too-brief career of our alumni Dr. John Treacy, the Geography Department created the Treacy Lecture in 1992. Each year since, graduate students have selected a renowned pre-tenure scholar to come share their latest work with the department. This year we are delighted to welcome Dr. Carolyn Finney, whose work explores the intersections between the race, place and power. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.   

No photo available5 May

  • Treacy Lecture

Yi Fu Tuan lecture archive