Seminar Series 2017-2018

GeoSpectives is the lecture series hosted by the Department of Geography. Talks are in Burnside Hall, Room 426, on Mondays, 10-11 a.m., unless otherwise stated.


Date: November 6, 10-11 a.m.
Climate Change and Global Mobility: Decoding Climate Refugees' Ineluctable Relations
J. Mauricio Gaona
O'Brien Fellow at the McGill Centre for Human Rights
McGill University

By the end of this century, it is expected that climate refugees will represent the world’s largest number of refugees leading to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. This year alone, we have seen a growing number of refugees fleeing severe drought in East and Central Africa along with massive internal displacements in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the United States due to environmental events associated with climate change and related impacts. Yet, climate refugees are the most unprotected population in the world. They are caught between the lack of international legal recognition, the politicization of climate change, and the rise of populism in the Western Hemisphere depicting refugees as security, economic, and cultural-identity threats. The talk will address these critical relations while decoding the most pressing challenges forced climate migrants nowadays face.

Special GIS Day Lecture!
Date: Wednesday, November 15, 1-2 p.m. in Burnside 511
“But do you actually do GIS?”
Dr. Matthew W. Wilson
University of Kentucky and Harvard University
Co-Sponsored by the Geographic Information Centre

The increasing availability of and innovations in internet-based digital mapping tools have brought about rapid changes in mapping practices. Alongside this popularization of mapping has been a largely silent academy as to what these developments mean for cartography, GIScience, geography, and spatial thought more broadly. Meanwhile, the arts, humanities, design, and social sciences, including critical human geography, have marked their interest in the use of geospatial technologies, with the emergence of volunteered geographic information and neogeography, the digital and spatial humanities, as well as calls for new collaborations between the critical social sciences and the GISciences. In the presentation, I think about the question, “But do you actually do GIS?”, as it unearths a series of broader concerns around the project of higher education. To fashion a response to this question has meant reconsidering what it means to be “public” as well as a “science” in a democracy. In this project, I reevaluate our disciplinary stance, to challenge the definitional boundaries of geographic information systems and to reestablish the significance of studying versus doing.

Date: November 20, 10-11 a.m.
There’s Something in the Water: The Politics of Race, Place & Waste in Indigenous and African Nova Scotian Communities
Prof. Ingrid Waldron
Faculty of Health
Dalhousie University

In this presentation Dr. Ingrid Waldron examines the social justice dimensions of race, place, space, and the environment in Indigenous and African Nova Scotian communities by exploring how hierarchies and intersections of race, culture, gender, income, class, and other social identities are spatialized in rural and urban settings. She will unpack the larger socio-spatial processes that create disproportionate exposure and vulnerability to the harmful social, economic, and health impacts of environmental injustices and other place-based inequalities in Indigenous and Black communities.


The department has a limited schedule of GeoSpectives in winter due to the number of job talks we will host this semester.

Date: March 19, 2018, 10-11 a.m.
The Brick Wall You Cannot See: On the Limits of Knowing for Anti-Racist Futures
Prof. Kate D. Derickson
Department of Geography, Environment & Society
University of Minnesota

The often unstated presumption of scholarship that seeks to advance decolonial, environmentally just and anti-racist projects is that forms of new knowledge ought to be generated in order to contribute to those projects.  In this talk, I question that presumption.  I engage Lorraine Code’s concept of “ecological thinking,” Kristie Dotson’s work on “epistemic back grounding,” Donna Haraway’s work on “response-ability” and Katherine McKittrick’s piece “Mathematics Black Life” to argue that how we go about knowing is as important for anti-racist futures as what we ultimately know. Informed by 10 years of collaborations with community-based organizations and social movements, I argue for a processual conception of anti-racist and decolonial knowledges that are attentive to the social relations engendered by acts of knowing and conclude that we ought not seek to know revolutionary and anti-racist things, but rather know in anti-racist and revolutionary ways. 

Note special location: Thomson House Ball Room
Date: March 20, 2018, 10-11 a.m.
The Nature of Border Control: Walls, Legal Waivers, and the Proliferation of Insecurities for Multispecies Communities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands
Prof. Juanita Sundberg
Department of Geography
University of British Columbia
Cosponsored with the Sustainability Research Symposium

Boundary making and enforcement are more-than-human processes involving the often violent (re)configuration of interspecies relations. Indeed, I argue, boundary enforcement operations are mechanisms of multispecies worlding, practices that organize the world through onto-epistemological and material separations, distinctions, exclusions, and exceptions. This presentation examines the multispecies dimensions of the current boundary enforcement regime, which, according to Donald Trump, is committed to “complete operational control” of the border. Of particular importance are the legal waivers used by the Department of Homeland Security to build border infrastructure while avoiding legislation designed to regulate federal projects and govern relations with non-human worlds. My objective is to highlight the implications for intimately connected multispecies communities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, which are made up of people, but also non-human animals, plants, and other beings living in relation to geologic and climatic processes.

Date: Postponed to Fall 2018
Reclaiming the Oil Sands: Can We Put the Peatlands Back?
Prof. Maria Strack
Department of Geography and Environmental Management
University of Waterloo

Oil sands deposits in Alberta cover over 142,000 km2 of boreal forest and represent one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Many of these oil sands deposits are located in areas rich in peatland cover, often account for over 50% of the landscape. Open pit mining completely removed all surface materials (up to 75 m) such that reclamation requires reconstruction of entire landscapes, but covers only 3% of oil sand surface area. Deeper deposits can be recovered using in site methods that involve the construction of a network of roads, pipelines and well-pads. In either case, large areas of peatland are disturbed and several projects are now investigating construction and restoration methods to return functioning peatland ecosystems to the post-extraction landscape. Using case studies from around the province of Alberta, reclamation methods will be discussed. Overall, wetland and peatland plants can be established on reclaimed peatland ecosystems and sites quickly act as growing season C sinks; however, shifts in peat chemistry related to oil sands specific disturbance result in novel biogeochemical conditions on site.

Date: April 23, 2018, 10-11 a.m.
Title TBA
Prof. Karl Zimmerer
Department of Geography
Penn State University