January 29, 2018
Assistant Professor
University of Washington, Department of Geography
Speaker Biographies: 
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Washington. Finding connections among seemingly unrelated or distant people, places, and environments fascinates me. In one of my main research directions, I have been developing new ways to map the geographies of carbon emissions, land use, and human labor adequate to a globalizing world. For example, consider:
  • Carbon emissions from the global South have grown rapidly. But if many of our commodity chains are global, which of those emissions are part of processes that end upsupporting consumers and capital accumulation in countries like the United States?
  • We increasingly pay attention to where the fields are that feed us. But are we indirectly connected to distant agricultural landscapes and environments, even when we aren’t importing food, fibers, or fuel from them? Where are the forests and fields in the world that we have impacted when we consume manufactured goods and services? Which fields in the world are more ‘globalized’ than others? Why?
  • If the rapid changes in many agricultural landscapes and land uses are seen through the lens of globalization, do we gain new perspectives on the emergence and evolution of diseases, such as avian influenza?
Some of my work is more quantitative, some more historical, some more theoretical. Yet I have also benefited from the chance to observe several different parts of relevant connections: much of my time over the last number of years has been spent in China, whose relentlessly dynamic landscapes influence both my life and my research. I am a member of the China Studies Program here at the UW’s Jackson School of International Studies. In fact, before attending the University of Minnesota for graduate school in geography, my undergraduate degree was actually in physics at Duke University, where the theoretical humanities also strongly shaped my worldview. Today, I am interested in different ways of knowing: through social theory, through quantitative approaches, as well as through sometimes finding productive synergies between them. In a related research effort, I have recently been considering how work in Critical GIS, digital humanities, and social and cultural theory may suggest we need to reconceptualize ‘data’, interfaces, and computation more generally if many approaches to inquiry that have characterized the humanities and interpretative social sciences are to flourish digitally. I am delighted to be here at the University of Washington. I offer Geog 270 (Development and Environment), Geog 360/560 (Principles of GIS), and Geog 458 (Advanced Digital Geographies), where the latter is a smaller, intensive course where attention is given to programming and interactive cartography. My graduate seminars have included Geog 571 (Critical Ecologies of Relational Becoming: Geographies after Nature and Society) and Geog 521 (Hybrid Humanities: Critical, Digital, Geographical). Several colleagues and I also offered the Summer Institute in the Arts & Humanities, entitled: “Outbreak! Reimagining Death and Life, Disease and Health.” There is more to come!
103 McNeil