Upcoming Colloquium: Colin Flint on ‘Geopolitical Constructs: Making the Mulberry Harbours, Geopolitical Agents and Geopolitical Regions’

Please join us this Friday at 3:30 in Smith 304 for the first of our spring quarter colloquia. Colin Flint will be joining us from Utah State University. His talk is titled “Geopolitical Constructs: Making the Mulberry Harbours, Geopolitical Agents and Geopolitical Regions”. As always, please join us following the talk for a reception in Smith 409.
The Mulberry Harbours were massive artificial constructs dragged across the English Channel in the immediate wake of the Allied invasion forces of D-Day, June 6, 1944. They were designed to ensure the continuous supply of personnel and materiel that would support the military advance towards Germany. The story of the making of the harbors is used to illustrate the concept of Geopolitical Constructs; the multi-scalar creation of geopolitical subjects, government bureaucracy, place-specific economic activity, and regions defined by a particular geopolitical agenda. The historical legacy of these constructs is addressed. The concept of Geopolitical Constructs is proposed in order to re-instate “big picture” or global geopolitical narratives in to political geography, but in a non-deterministic fashion.

Climate Change, Global Health and the Inequalities of Risk

ccGeographers Eloho Basikoro, Luke Bergmann, Brandon Derman, and Matt Sparke to speak at symposium designed to cross-borders and disciplines in order to re-map and rethink vulnerability and resilience.

The symposium begins Thursday, April 17th – HUB 145
6:00-7:30 Keynote Lecture
Patrick Bond, Development Studies, University of Kwazulu-Natal
Climate Change, Global Health and Social Advocacy: Connecting Dots and Jumping Scale

It continues all-day Friday, April 18th – Petersen Room, Allen Library (Fourth Floor):

8:30-9:00 Registration and Coffee
9:00-9:30 Opening Comments
Celia Lowe, Anthropology and International Studies, UW
Howard Frumkin, Dean of the School of Public Health, UW
9:30-11:00 Framing Problems:
Epistemologies of Climate Risk
Adam Warren, History, UW
Judd Walson, Global Health, Medicine, Pediatrics, UW
LuAnne Thompson, Director of Program on Climate Change, Oceanography, UW
Kristie Ebi, Global Health, UW
11:00-12:30 Producing Vulnerability Across Scales
Mark Carey, History, University of Oregon
Ed Allison, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, UW
Nora Kenworthy, Nursing and Health Studies Program, UW
Eloho Basikoro, Geography, UW
Adam Akullian, Global Health, UW
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-3:00 Times of Global Environmental Change
Suraya Afiff, Director of the Anthropological Research Center, University of Indonesia
Sara Curran, International Studies, UW
Richard Watts, Chair, French and Italian Studies, UW
Luke Bergmann, Geography, UW
3:00-4:50 Discussion: Putting it all Together: Engaging Risk
James Orbinski, Chair in Global Health, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Canada
Brandon Derman, Geography, UW
Ulil Amri, Anthropology, UW
Patrick Bond, Development Studies, University of Kwazulu-Natal
Suraya Afiff, Director of the Anthropological Research Center, University of Indonesia

4:50-5:00 Closing Comments
Matt Sparke, Geography and International Studies, UWClimate

Congratulations to Our Mary Gates Scholars!

Every year the University of Washington offers several Mary Gates Research Scholarships to enhance the educational experiences of undergraduate students engaged in research with faculty. In 2013-2014 the University offered two rounds of these competitive scholarships, with applications submitted in the Autumn Quarter or in Winter Quarter. The Department of Geography is proud to announce that three of its students won the scholarship across these two periods. A big congratulations goes out to winners Phoebe Merritt, Richard McGovern, and Breanna Hudson! Learn a bit about their research below:

Phoebe MerrittPhoebe Merritt is working with Dr. Suzanne Withers on her research, but has also received guidance from Dr. Sarah Elwood along the way. According to Phoebe: “My research revolves around OpenStreetMap, the Wikipedia of mapping. I’m exploring this crowdsourced map’s attribute quality, which involves delving into the OpenStreetMap database, and understanding its ontology. With millions of people contributing to OpenStreetMap, I think it’s important to study whether the map maintains quality control.  My goal is to understand how OpenStreetMap resolves attribute and boundary disputes. (For example, disputes between a Turkish versus a Greek place name- which is correct? Or disputes surrounding the correct boundaries of Northern Cyprus- with no consensus among users, who makes the final decision?). Two factors influenced my fascination with OpenStreetMap: An internship as a GIS analyst at SpatialDev, a spatial technologies consulting firm, and Dr. Luke Bergmann’s Advanced Digital Geographies Course.” More broadly, Phoebe is interested in database management and open source mapping. Since OpenStreetMap research is ultimately a collision of the two, she is very excited to start looking under the hood of their database schema and working to make OpenStreetMap an even better Open Source mapping tool. Phoebe will be using her Mary Gates Scholarship to travel to Washington DC to attend the State of the Map US Annual OpenStreetMap Conference, where she will be conducting interviews with experienced OpenStreetMap users and learning more about the OpenStreetMap ontology.

Richard McGovern

Richard McGovern is working with Dr. Suzanne Withers and Dr. Luke Bergmann on his project. He describes his research and future goals in the following way: “I am developing a transit network model for optimizing the Seattle Metro Public Transit bus system that emphasizes performance measures for social equity and accessibility. This will be done by processing data from Metro and the PSRC with ArcGIS and python scripting. Such a model can inform service cuts and increase the social sustainability of our public transportation system. This research was inspired by a previous group project I did for a discrete math modeling class: developing a metric for optimizing bus service cuts based on multiple criteria. Since then I have been interested in applying critical GIS and modeling techniques to transportation issues.  I believe that improving the sustainability of our public transit system is an important step toward addressing the persistent racial inequalities present in Seattle and many other places. After graduating, I hope to work for the Puget Sound Regional Council, King County Metro, or another organization devoted to supporting public transportation functions.”

Breanna HudsonBreanna Hudson is working with Dr. Suzanne Withers on her project. According to Breanna: “It’s a qualitative research project that integrates interviews and personalized maps to figure out more about the relationship between perceptions of sexualized space and perceptions of safety in Seattle – at the crux of it, I am interested in how queer people come to define spaces as queer and safe when queer spaces are also sites of increased vulnerability. I ended up here because I’m queer and because I’m a geographer but I’ve never had the freedom (or necessary knowledge) to research the intersection of the two. I am also just generally interested in safety because it is so influential to the way we navigate spaces. I would like to think this project is making me a more critical geographer of my own life and also giving me the skills and experiences necessary to eventually transition to graduate school.”


Congrats again to all three of our Mary Gates Scholars; we look forward to seeing the results of their research!

Common Good Cafe session with Matt Sparke

tMarch 20 | Resistance, Resilience and Reaction Amidst Rising Inequality

In this talk, Dr. Matt Sparke reflects on the divergent ways in which communities and individuals around the world are responding to the challenges of growing in-country inequality. Author most recently of “Introducing Globalization,” Sparke argues that when local forms of suffering, dispossession and alienation are put in their global context it becomes easier to imagine more collective and caring kinds of response. Too often, though, reactionary responses based on various forms of chauvinism, xenophobia, and fear take precedence, blinding communities to the ways they share common vulnerabilities with others. Yet other responses focus just on individualistic strategies of securing personal resilience. The challenge then is to see how these varied responses – the new 3 Rs of resistance, reaction and resilience – relate to one another, and how understanding their overlapping emergence amidst global structural change may ultimately make it possible to turn the passions and preferences for reaction and resilience into the foundations for collectively resisting the processes that produce inequality.