College of Arts and Sciences

Spring 2017 Colloquium Series » Abstracts

January 13

‘They can’t move the limestone to Mexico, right?’: Geographies of the new precarity in Southern Indiana
Jo Varga, IUB Departments of History and Labor Studies

The movement of industrial production facilities in search of increased profit, what David Harvey has termed “capital’s spatial fix”, has radically altered the landscape of Southern Indiana. Industrial job loss, and technological shifts favoring hi-tech manufacturing, has changed the landscape for Indiana’s working class, creating the conditions for what many are calling the new precarity. Even work that cannot be outsourced, such as the limestone quarrying unique to the South Central Indiana limestone belt, has been negatively affected, as global finance and international trade alter the labor/capital relations that once sustained the industrial economy. Through a brief examination of the tension between what Andrew Herod has termed the “geography of labor” and “labor geographies”, my research examines the emergence of the “precariat”, an insecure and unstable working class who operate in an unmoored physical, cultural, and political environment. This presentation will include an overview of the industrial landscape of Southern Indiana, and a more focused examination of the relations between finance capital, globalization, and the Indiana limestone industry and limestone workers.

Bio: Dr. Joseph Varga is Associate Professor in the Department of Labor Studies at the IU School of Social Work. He arrived at IU in 2009, having received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in Manhattan in 2008. His second book, Breaking the Heartland: Geographies of the New Precarity, in progress, charts the same processes for the industrial working class of Southern Indiana. Dr. Varga also brings to his work his long experience as a labor organizer and rank-and file activist with, among others, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the American Association of University Professors.


January 20

The future is not the past: Drought in a warmer world
Benjamin Cook, Columbia University Earth Institute

Drought is one of the largest sources of disruption and disturbance to the global food system, but there are still uncertainties regarding how climate change will affect drought risk in the coming decades. Focusing on North America, I will demonstrate how climate change will increase drought risk during the latter half of the 21st century. Importantly, this change will not be forced by relatively uncertain precipitation changes, but occur primarily through increases in evaporative demand from the robust warming expected in response to increased greenhouse gas concentrations. While year-to-year variability will still be dominated by precipitation, drought and pluvial events will occur within an increasingly drier baseline as warming continues, amplifying the risk of megadroughts (drought events 35-years or longer) occurring by the end of the 21st century in agriculturally important regions of the U.S. like the Southwest and Central Plains. Such events would be unprecedented since at least the Medieval Climate Anomaly, presenting a new challenge for water management. Further, I will highlight recent work that suggests the expected temperature impacts on drought are already beginning to emerge during recent droughts in California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Colorado River Basin.

February 3

Patterns of authorship in the IPCC Working Group III report
Esteve Corbera, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) completed its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in 2014. In this presentation, the social scientific networks informing the IPCC’s Working Group III (WGIII) will be explored. Identifying authors’ institutional pathways, the presentation will show the persistence and extent of North–South inequalities in the authorship of the report, revealing the dominance of US and UK institutions as training sites for WGIII authors. Examining patterns of co-authorship between WGIII authors, the unevenness in co-authoring relations, with a small number of authors co-writing regularly, will also be identified and regarded as an indication of an epistemic community’s influence over the IPCC’s definition of mitigation. The presentation will also show that these co-authoring networks follow regional patterns, with significant EU–BRICS collaboration and authors from the US relatively insular. From a disciplinary perspective, economists, engineers, physicists and natural scientists remain central to the process, with insignificant participation of scholars from the humanities. The shared training and career paths made apparent through the analysis developed suggest that the idea that broader geographic participation may lead to a wider range of viewpoints and cultural understandings of climate change mitigation may not be as sound as previously thought.

Bio: Esteve Corbera is a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (ICTA), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). His research focuses on the governance of land-use management options for climate mitigation across scales, including analyses of climate-policy and biodiversity conservation related instruments, such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and carbon offset projects, and more recently also of large-scale agriculture for biofuels production. Some of his research has been published in top-tier journals, such as Science, Nature Climate Change, and Global Environmental Change, and he has written several book chapters, policy briefs, working papers and consultancy reports. He can be contacted at and followed at


February 17

Open Sounds, Hidden Spaces: Listening, Wandering, and Spatial Formation in Sufi Iran
Seema Golestaneh, IUBDepartment of Central Eurasian Studies

As the Iranian authorities continue to frown upon public gatherings, Sufi Orders have sought alternative methods of convening while still complying with city regulations.  One informal Sufi group in the city of Isfahan does so by meeting in private homes and rotating locations each week. Rather than circulate the specific address of a meeting place, however, the mystics instead instruct the others to meet at a nearby intersection, and then broadcast music from a courtyard or house to alert the members to the exact location. This in turn allows them to locate the site by listening for and ultimately “following” the sounds.  It is in this way that the Sufis utilize the practice of intentional listening (sama) and mystical ideals of wandering to navigate the politics of Iranian urban space. This talk will hence examine the utilization of mystical epistemologies to lead to the emergence of an alternative Islamic space in post-revolutionary Iran. 

Bio: Seema Golestaneh is Assistant Professor in Central Eurasian Studies. She received her PhD in Anthropology at Columbia University and her work is focused broadly on theexperiences of the metaphysical in post-revolutionary Iran.


March 2

For more information on Michael Watts, see:

March 3

The Predicament of Aftermath: Remembering the Oklahoma City Bombing, April 19, 1995, An Illustrated Lecture
Edward T. Linenthal, IUB HIstory - 2017 Keynote for IU Landscape Conference

Before the events of September 11, 2001, how did Americans respond to what was then the worst act of domestic terrorism on American soil, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, murdering 168 people, and wounding many others? This presentation examines distinct narratives through which people engaged the bombing, offers commentary on the memorial competition and process, and offers comparison and contrast to similar cultural processes after 9/11.

The 11th Annual Landscape, Space, and Place Conference features 28 presenters from IU and around the country. They are graduate students, faculty, and professionals representing a variety of disciplines and topics. All sessions will be held be held in the IMU University Club. Thursday 3/2 sessions will run from 1pm-5:15pm. Friday 3/3 sessions will run from 9:30am-5pm with Dr. Linenthal's keynote speech beginning at 5:15. A full schedule can be found on

March 24

Scaling visceral geographies of youth activism: From internal feelings to international collaboration
Allison Hayes-Conroy, Temple University Department of Geography and Urban Studies

Feelings play important and complicated roles in motivating and mobilizing youth activism. My research with the Colombian group Legion del Afecto (Legion of Affection) examines how diverse internal (interoceptive) and relational (proprioceptive and somato-sensorial) feelings have been harnessed for collective peacebuilding and non-violent social change. Individuals’ bodily, sensory and emotional feelings coalesce to form an inner sense of self and being. While typically understood as an interior process, these feelings also form the basis for inter-personal relating and collective collaboration at broader scales. The recent history of the Legion del Afecto is ripe with examples of the relevance of such feelings to broader social and political struggles, especially because the initiative has built a methodology for social engagement that is centered on shared bodily feeling.  While a body-centered methodology may seem particularly suited to the rebuilding of smaller-scale, inter-personal relationships, instances of ‘jumping scale,’ whether imagined or actual, also bring powerful if not unexpected results. 

Bio: Dr. Allison Hayes-Conroy is an assistant professor in the Geography and Urban Studies dept. at Temple University. She is a qualitatively trained researcher who has worked broadly in the areas of food, bodies and health. In 2015 Dr. Hayes-Conroy was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant for her project in Medellín and Bogotá, Colombia, examining the role of bodies, sensation, and body movement in youth-based creative activity and community engagement. Dr. Hayes-Conroy also leads an NSF-NRT Innovations in Graduate Education project that uses her broad interest in the body to train graduate students in transdisciplinary bio-social collaboration. Dr. Hayes-Conroy received her Ph.D. in geography from Clark University in 2009.


April 14

Increased water yield due to the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) infestation in New England
JiHyun Kim, IU Department of Geography

In the northeastern US, eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is known as a foundation species, playing a key role in controlling regional hydrological and biogeochemical cycles. The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA; Adelges tsugae) currently infests about half of the entire eastern hemlock forests in the region, causing a significant increase in mortality of eastern hemlock trees over the past decade. Although warmer winter temperatures are expected to promote its northward expansion, the effect of the ongoing hemlock declines on local hydrologic regime is not yet fully understood. Here, we first report the ongoing HWA infestation and its effect on the hydrologic fluxes at the Harvard Forest Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in central Massachusetts. For the last five years (2009-2014), the HWA infestation has increased from 17.2% to 96.5%, inducing foliar loss by 50%. Based on the eddy-covariance flux measurements, we estimated that the evapotranspiration (ET) flux over the hemlock-dominated area has decreased by 23-37%. The annual stream discharge of a mixed-forest headwater catchment has increased by 4.2-15.8 mm as compared to an adjacent catchment with 22.4% less hemlock cover. We used a mechanistic ecohydrological model (RHESSys: Regional Hydro-Ecologic Simulation System) to scale up the plot-scale HWA effect into catchment-scale hydrological changes, and assessed the net amount of the annual stream discharge changed due to the HWA infestation. This study highlights that the local hydrological regimes in the northeastern US will be significantly altered by the complete mortality of eastern hemlock forests.


April 21

Drought, plow, and fire: Changes in the eastern deciduous forest since settlement
Jim Dyer, Ohio University Department of Geography

Issues of scale are fundamental to geographical and ecological understanding.  For example, we recognize that at broad spatial and temporal scales, vegetation assemblages have reorganized in response to climatic changes since the last glacial maximum.  Yet environmental changes have continued throughout the Holocene, altering forest composition.  To assess the effects of changes in land use, climate, and fire frequency since Euro-American settlement, we must rely on old-growth remnants, and “witness trees” recorded during the original land surveys.  In this talk we will examine differences in our contemporary forests compared to a couple centuries ago.  We will consider not only changes occurring throughout the eastern deciduous forest, but also how responses to environmental change may manifest at a fine spatial scale.

Bio: Jim Dyer is a biogeographer interested in the patterns that emerge from the interactions of the physical environment, biotic processes, and disturbance.  His research integrates fieldwork, historical data, and computer modeling, focusing particularly within the forests of eastern North America.  In addition to exploring changes in eastern forests since settlement, active projects include modeling vegetation-site relationships using a GIS-based water balance approach, and monitoring hemlock stands with the recent arrival of hemlock woolly adelgid in Ohio. Jim is Professor and Chair in the Department of Geography at Ohio University, where he has been since 1995.


April 28

Film Screening: “Ostra Cosa No Hay/There is Nothing Else”
Christiana Ochoa, Indiana University School of Law

In the highlands of Colombia, the accessible gold contained in a single mountain has sustained a town for four hundred years, since the region was colonized. The town’s local economy and sense of community has been relatively stable, even during the country’s long civil war, allowing the population to maintain decent and honorable livings. Nearby, the Páramo de Santurbán, an ecologically vital land area lies in nearly pristine condition, evidently preserved and revered by the region’s population. This fragile equilibrium between human economic needs, harvestable natural resources, and environmental protection has recently been disrupted, likely forever. Mine owners

have sold their lands and mining rights to large-scale, foreign mining companies, while activists have turned the Páramo de Santurbán into the country’s national environmental cause célèbre.
Otra Cosa No Hay/ There is Nothing Else transports its audiences to this region of Colombia, immersing them in the beauty of the region and its people. It is provocative and complex, leaving viewers with a rich understanding of the hopes, the fears and the conflicts that have arisen here since the arrival of foreign gold mining interests.

Bio: Christiana Ochoa has focused the majority of her scholarship on the question of how economic activity intersects with human well-being. Before joining the faculty in 2003, she had worked at the global law firm, Clifford Chance, where she dedicated her efforts to cross-border capital markets and asset-finance transactions. She had also worked for a number of human rights and non-governmental organizations in Colombia, Brazil and Nicaragua. Together with her life-experience in Latin America, this work focused her attention on governance in the field of business and human rights. Since that time, her research on governance mechanisms has expanded into the field of law and development.