Articles tagged with: David Butz

  • Book celebrates work of late Brock cartographer

    Alun Hughes, a longtime member of Brock’s Department of Geography, had an enormous appetite for local history.

    Between 2003 and his untimely death in 2013, the trained cartographer wrote extensively about the geography and history of the Niagara region.

    Hoping to honour his passion, Hughes’ former colleagues have come together to release a book of his essays, History Made in Niagara, and will host a launch for the publication on Wednesday, May 29.

    The book was compiled by Hughes’ former colleagues from the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, Professors Mike Ripmeester and David Butz and retired cartographer Loris Gasparotto.

    Everyone is welcome to attend the free event, to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at Brock’s Pond Inlet.

    History Made in Niagara can be purchased at the launch for $35 (cash only).

    More information about the event can be found on ExperienceBU or by calling 905-688-5550 x3484.

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  • New book builds bridge between mobility and social justice

    Having choices about when, where and how to move — and when to stay put — is at the core of mobility justice, a new concept that is developing at the nexus of mobility studies and social justice scholarship.

    A recently published book, Mobilities, Mobility Justice and Social Justice, edited by Nancy Cook, Associate Professor of Sociology, and David Butz, Professor of Geography, explores “the ways social inequities are constituted in relation to mobility,” says Cook.

    The newly established field of mobility studies looks at the differential flows of people, ideas, food and animals, and the related infrastructures that facilitate such uneven mobilities, such as roads, trains, airplanes, fibre optic cables and the internet.

    “Mobility justice is a concept developing in the mobilities literature that examines how differences in mobility capabilities can contribute to social inequalities,” says Cook.

    Mobilities, Mobility Justice and Social Justice, edited by Nancy Cook, Associate Professor of Sociology, and David Butz, Professor of Geography, explores how social inequities are constituted in relation to mobility.

    The topics and regions represented in the book exemplify the “deeply transdisciplinary nature” of mobility studies, she says. “It has put us in contact with a whole different set of scholars from all over the world who we didn’t have access to before.”

    Contributing authors, who come from philosophy, gender studies, communications studies, architecture, transport planning, public administration, geography and sociology, were asked to think about and analyze particular mobility-related injustices using specific social justice concepts.

    “This was to strengthen the justice focus of mobility analyses, and to bring thinking about the mobility-based aspects of injustice to social justice theorising,” says Cook.

    The result is a diverse collection of empirical case studies that illustrate how “different scales, types and facets of mobility interact with particular kinds of social relations to (re)produce inequalities,” she says. Chapters explore issues such as LGBTQ communities’ access to public space, global air travel, ferry service, urban cycling, forced migration, food waste and even tick migration.

    “Most chapters in the book are interested in access or impediments to movement, the way certain sorts of movement are imagined ideologically, and how that shapes people’s access to social justice or shapes inequitable social relations,” says Butz.

    Butz and Cook saw first-hand the social justice implications of mobility infrastructure in their SSHRC-funded research project on the Shimshal Road in Pakistan. During the road’s construction, locals looked forward to a time when they would not have to carry everything on their backs through the mountains. However, the effects of switching from a pedestrian to a vehicular mobility regime have been complicated.

    “We actually see a deepening of particular kinds of inequalities by age and gender,” says Cook. Men and students are “differentially benefitting” from access to this new mobility platform in relation to women and older adults.

    According to Butz, mobility justice is more than simple efficiency of movement.

    “We see social class and social advantage manifested in the way people travel. The trip from St. Catharines to Toronto is different for the person on the bus, in a car or on the Go train,” he says. “These experiences work into people’s identities and understandings of themselves in relation to the world.”

    Mobility justice is as much about staying in one place as it is about access to movement. It’s about the ability to make choices in relation to mobility. “Many commuters would prefer to work near where they live and not feel compelled to move,” says Cook. Infrastructure enables people to live far away from their jobs but relegates them to cheaper suburbs and long commutes.

    Like social justice, mobility justice is most often noticed in its absence.

    “We get at justice by looking at injustice,” he says. But there are movements towards mobility justice, at least for some people. “An accessibility regime at a university is a positive example of achieving social justice for a group through a focus on enabling their mobility.”

    The two say their interest in mobility justice emerged from and is supported by their work with the Social Justice and Equity Studies program and the Social Justice Research Institute.

    “Mobility justice has taken our research in a really new direction which has been very exciting,” says Cook.

    STORY REPOSTED FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Geography student studies why some people live on the road

    STORY FROM THE TORONTO STAR | DEC 6, 2018

    Graduate student in the driver's seat of a van she bought for research

    Brock University graduate student Stephanie Murray studied movible communities in a van she bought on Kijiji. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    When Stephanie Murray, a Geography master’s student at Brock University, set out on a two-month long journey across North America to study nomads and vanlife culture, she didn’t expect to find herself learning to surf, contributing to a documentary film, or being surrounded by a pack of angry stray dogs. But she quickly learned that life on the road is full of unexpected twists and turns.

    An avid traveller, Murray stumbled onto vanlife culture. She was fascinated by the people she met, and quickly realized that although nomads living in vans had been around for years, no one had studied them yet.

    “I knew there was a gap in academia that I could fill,” Murray says. “But if I wanted to truly study this culture, I needed to be able to live and move like they did.”

    “Lola” in the field during her two-month research journey across North America. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    Using funding from Brock and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant, she purchased a used van on Kijiji. Naming it Lola, she converted the vehicle into 66 square feet of living space. Then, over the summer of 2017, she drove to the west coast of the United States to attend “van gatherings,” events where people who live and travel in their vans get together to socialize and support one another. It’s a diverse group, says Murray. “One of the couples I spoke to worked remotely in IT, another couple ran a blog, and one of the other vanlifers was making money from a book he’d written. They’re a pretty talented bunch.”

    She was out to discover their motivation for giving up conventional lives and instead choosing a highly mobile lifestyle. “Our society is oriented towards people who stay in one place, and van nomads help to call that way of thinking into question.”

    “I have encountered so much kindness on the road,” Murray added. “People have welcomed me into their homes and helped me with my van, with no expectation of anything in return. And while the vanlifers I interviewed took up this lifestyle for a variety of reasons, they were united by a desire to choose their own path, rather than the one that’s handed down to them.”

    Murray was thankful that she received the full backing of the University during her time on the road.

    “Brock supported me fully from day one. And that support meant that I was able to do this research in the way it needed to be done — in person, on the road. I lived and moved alongside the people I was studying, and never once did I have to make any compromises that would have hurt the quality of my research. The University made sure I had the resources to do it right.”

    Master's student in the field during trip across north america. Standing in the foggy mountains.

    Research doesn’t have to happen in the lab. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    Murray’s faculty supervisor and the Graduate Program Director of Geography at Brock,  Dr. David Butz, believed her research was novel and important, given today’s mobile society. Becoming a van nomad herself was pivotal.

    “This research strategy — and life choice — gives her research an unusually strong experiential and autobiographical component, which is rare in ‘mobilities’ research, and which adds to the distinctiveness and potential significance of her research,” says Butz. “We also felt Stephanie’s unusual research project, while logistically complicated, was worth supporting. We were confident about her capabilities based on her history with the University. At Brock, we encourage applications from good students and we’re willing to put funding behind that — and provide them with mentoring to apply for external funding.  Brock can offer lots of personalized attention to students.”

    Research doesn’t have to happen in a lab. There are interesting and exciting things going on around us everywhere, and at Brock University, unique postgraduate research projects in the community are encouraged.

    For her part, Murray is grateful for the support she received from Brock. “This research changed the course of my life, and it showed me that it’s possible to turn your passion into a ground-breaking research project,” she said. “If you have a clear vision of what you want to discover, Brock can help you on that pursuit.”

    Interested in studying in the Master of Arts in Geography program at Brock? Apply by February 15 to start next September.


    Story reposted from The Toronto Star

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  • New book by David Butz explores mobilities, mobility justice and social justice

    Drs. Nancy Cook (Associate Professor, Department of Sociology) and David Butz (Professor, Geography and Tourism Studies), recently published a book titled Mobilities, Mobility Justice and Social JusticeLearn more about the book below.

    Mobilities, Mobility Justice and Social Justice cover. By Drs. Nancy Cook and David Butz.

    Description:This collection investigates the relationship between mobilities and social justice to develop the concept of mobility justice.

    Two introductory chapters outline how social justice concepts can strengthen analyses of mobility as socially structured movement in particular fields of power, what new justice-related questions arise by considering uneven mobilities through a social justice frame, and what a ‘mobile ontology’ contributes to understandings of justice in relation to 21st-century social relations. In 15 subsequent chapters, authors analyze the material infrastructures that configure mobilities and co-constitute injustice, the justice implications of ‘more-than-human’ movements of food and animals, and mobility-related injustices produced in relation to institutional acts of governance and through micro-scale embodied relations of race, gender, class and sexuality that shape the uneven freedom of human bodily movements.

    The volume brings numerous scales, types and facets of mobility into conversation with multiple approaches to social justice in order to theorize mobility justice and reimagine social justice as a mobile concept appropriate for analyzing the effects and ethics of contemporary life. It is aimed at scholars and upper-level students in the interdisciplinary fields of critical mobilities and social justice, especially from disciplinary locations in geography, sociology, philosophy, transport planning, anthropology, and design and urban studies.

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  • Congratulations to Adam Fischer on the successful completion of his MA in Geography thesis

    Adam Fischer successfully defended his MA in Geography thesis. Pictured here (L to R): David Butz (GPD); Phillip Mackintsoh (sumervisor); Adam Fischer; Chris Fullerton (committee member); and Alan Walks (external examiner)

    Pictured from left to right: Dr. David Butz (Graduate Program Director); Dr. Phillip Mackintosh (supervisor); Adam Fischer; Dr. Chris Fullerton (committee member); and Dr. Alan Walks (external examiner, University of Toronto).

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to extend congratulations to Adam Fischer and his committee for the successful defense of his Master of Arts in Geography thesis entitled ‘A Domestic Geography of Money: How Mortgage Debt, Home Prices and Toronto’s Condominiums “Prop Up” the Canadian Economy’.

    Adam’s research was supervised by Dr. Phillip Mackintosh, and committee members, Dr. Jeffrey Boggs and Dr. Christopher Fullerton. Many thanks to External Examiner, Dr. Alan Walks (Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto).

    We wish Adam all the best for his future endeavours!

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  • Students and faculty travel to New Orleans for AAG 2018

    On April 10-14, our graduate students and professors travelled to New Orleans for the 2018 American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting. At this AAG Annual Meeting, Master of Arts in Geography student Jennica Giesbrecht was awarded the Glenda Laws Paper Award for her paper “Posthuman and Material-Discursive Examinations of the Geographies of the Dead Body”. Congratulations Jennica!

    Read more about the papers and sessions by Geography and Tourism Studies professors and students:

    Mobilities Research, Epistemic Justice, and Mobility Justice

    By: Drs. Nancy Cook and David Butz (Geography and Tourism Studies)

    Over the past decade numerous authors have called for the development of “mobile methods” (Büscher, Urry & Witchger, 2011) and the identification of suitable “methods for mobilities research” (Sheller & Urry, 2006), and a number of innovative approaches to studying mobilities have emerged. These often involve some form of embodied or kinaesthetic researcher involvement in the mobile practices and contexts of the social groups or in the spaces under investigation. More recently, mobilities and transport scholars have begun to trouble some of the claims and assumptions underpinning the turn to mobile methods on epistemological (e.g., Merriman, 2014) and ethical (e.g., Warren, 2017) grounds. Our presentation contributes to this methodological discussion by suggesting the notion of epistemic justice as a basis for assessing the adequacy of particular methods for conducting mobilities research. We argue that epistemic justice is a significant aspect of mobility justice itself, and should be an important consideration in the conduct of mobilities research. We develop our argument with reference to a self-directed photography project we conducted with members of a small community in the mountains of northern Pakistan in the wake of a locally-important road construction project.

    The skills-mismatch: the weak evidentiary basis of a fuzzy concept and the implications for public universities.

    By: Drs. Emmanuel Kyeremeh and Jeffrey Boggs (Geography and Tourism Studies)

    The English-language press promotes a thesis of an incompatibility between workers’ ‘skills’ and employers’ needs, a condition variously called skill(s) gap(s), horizontal (and vertical) mismatch, or over- (and under-) education. However, no single unambiguous definition exists which encompasses these terms in a unified framework. Furthermore, these concepts frequently conflate credentials, skill-level, skillset and habit. Given the implications of these claims for labour force policies in English-speaking countries, this ambiguity is problematic. Furthermore, scholarly literature finds claims of skills-mismatch to be inconsistent with existing data in Anglophone countries. With that said, what we collectively term a ‘skills-mismatch’ exemplifies Markusen’s (2003) ‘fuzzy concept.’ While our re-conceptualization of the skills-mismatch as a concept consisting of three analytically-distinct components (credential-mismatch, skill-level-mismatch, and skillset-mismatch, all as distinct from habits) provides a starting-point for investigating the existence and extent of a skills-mismatch in a given context, a larger popular discourse already frames the contemporary discussion about an alleged skills-mismatch. Regardless of its problematic empirical foundations, this larger popular discourse frames universities as the cause of a ‘skills-mismatch.’ Irritatingly, this discourse downplays or ignores the role of employers in training workers, especially given declines in-house training budgets. In term of public wealth, advocates of the skills-mismatch thesis call for the restructuring of public universities to provide “workforce-ready” workers at the expense of turning out well-rounded students, and ignore the repercussions of this putative solution which further externalizes firms’ training costs onto society at large.

    Not Quite A Free Space: The Role of Geography in Critiquing Liberatory Discourse on LGBT Life Online

    By: Dean Mizzi, MA in Geography candidate, Brock University

    LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) enclaves, also known as “gay villages” or “gayborhoods”, have been a subject of study by geographers for decades. Advancements in information and communications technology since the 1990s, particularly access to the Internet and later to mobile telecommunications, have changed the nature of LGBT communities. More interaction is taking place via online services, such as social networks or online discussion boards, in contrast to the traditional physical spaces associated with gay villages. Most current scholarship describes these new interactions in the context of their benefits such as increased accessibility of information, community-building for activism, or as a means of social support. In this study I present a review and analysis of literature both within and outside geography which contests the current liberatory discourse surrounding LGBT life online including reproduction of exclusions from physical spaces in online environments, the creation of “virtual closets” in the constant sharing environment of social media, and increases in mass surveillance and content restrictions. In addition, I examine several current conceptual frameworks used in virtual geographies: hybrid spaces, augmented reality, and mediated spatiality. The remainder of the paper is devoted to examining which conceptual framework(s) is/are most effective for geographers in articulating the critiques to the liberatory discourse of LGBT life online.

    Mobile ‘Homes’: An Ethnographic Study with American Vandwellers

    By: Stephanie Murray, MA in Geography candidate, Brock University

    At present, numerous studies exist which focus on the practices and mobility of “snowbirds” and other RV nomads travelling within North America. And yet, moving alongside these nomads is another group of highly mobile vehicle-dwellers who seem to have gone unnoticed by scholars. United under the “vanlife” hashtag, these individuals refer to themselves as “vanlifers,” “vandwellers,” and “van nomads.” In order to learn about the meanings that these vandwellers assign to their mobility, and the ways in which that mobility might change the way that geographers conceptualize the scale of the home, I moved into my van and attended a number of van gatherings in Colorado and Washington State between July 1st and August 20th, 2017. This paper presents the findings from 9 weeks of participatory ethnographic research, during which 10 face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with 7 couples and 3 single “vanlifers.” By employing a “mobile metaphysics” in my analysis of the resulting participatory and interview data, I hope to contribute to recent efforts to expand geography’s focus beyond an ontology of fixity and place, and draw attention to the practices and meanings embedded in the movements of American vandwellers.

    Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Engagement: Teach-Ins – Panel Discussion

    Chair: Hilda Kurtz
    Discussants: Jenna Loyd (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Punam Khosla (York University), Ebru Ustundag (Geography and Tourism Studies, Brock University), Hilda Kurtz University of Georgia)

    This session is one of several organized for the purpose of providing grounded but critical discussion of public engagement and outreach opportunities, strategies, and challenges. Sessions build upon the experiences of panelists/facilitators and the sharing of perspectives from the audience to create a space where geographers can train each other, trade innovations and ideas, and negotiate practical and even political obstacles to public engagement in geography.
    This panel approaches public engagement in terms of process pragmatism and public pedagogy, and frame our session around both the nitty gritty of teach-ins as a mode of public engagement and thoughts on why this work is important in 21st century higher education. Jenna Loyd (University of Wisconsin) will share her experiences with co-organizing a series of community workshops on policing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, called Transforming Justice. She will focus on creating shared knowledge and working with social movement organizers. Punam Khosla (York University) will speak to her experience doing workshops with women in low-income neighbourhoods in Toronto as well as a number of other public engagement/ outreach/ education workshops over the years in labour unions, anti criminalization gender based violence campaigns, and community radio. Ebru Ustundag (Brock University) will problematize what we understand as ‘public/community engagement’, inviting expanded institutional consideration of what community building and partnership might look like. Hilda Kurtz (University of Georgia) will consider public engagement in relation to public intellectualism as assemblage, and reflect on her work co-organizing a teach-in series on civic engagement called Solidarity Sundays.

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  • New open-access paper by Geography and Tourism Studies professor, Dr. David Butz

    A new open-access paper on “The Epistemological and Ethical Value of Autophotography for Mobilities Research in Transcultural Contexts” is now available online. This paper is co-authored by Geography and Tourism Studies professor, Dr. David Butz.

    Abstract
    This article responds to calls from mobilities scholars for methodological innovation and reflexivity by (a) detailing our use of autophotography in a study of the everyday implications of a newly-constructed road for a small community in mountainous northern Pakistan, and (b) assessing autophotography’s attributes as a visual/narrative method for mobilities research in that setting, on ethical and epistemological grounds. We demonstrate that autophotography’s anti-objectivist epistemology of vision and participant-driven character, the portability and easy user-interface of compact cameras, and the inseparable mix of visual and narrative data the method produces, combined to attenuate epistemic injustice in our research, while also generating productive insights regarding the movements, representations and embodied practices our research subjects associate with the road. These points are developed with reference to literature on visual methods, mobile methods and subaltern autoethnography, as well as to the visual/narrative representations produced by study participants. The article concludes by exemplifying how research subjects used the road and its associated mobilities as discursive resources for the constitution of collective identity: to position their community in relation to modernity and tradition, to distinguish the community from its neighbours, and to articulate worries about the consequences of rapid social change.

    Read the full paper.

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  • Achievements of Geography and Tourism Studies professors and students recognized by FOSS

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate our professors and students who were recognized last week by Brock’s Faculty of Social Sciences at their annual Celebration of Excellence.

    • Dr. Julia Baird, Assistant Professor (Canada Research Chair, Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience)
    • Dr. David Butz, Professor (Brock SSHRC Institutional Grant)
    • Dr. Michael Pisaric, Professor (NSERC Discovery Grant)
    • Dr. Kevin Turner, Assistant Professor (Canada Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Fund)
    • Dr. Ebru Ustundag, Associate Professor (Ontario Undergraduate Students Alliance Teaching Excellence Award)
    • Katelyn Pierce, MA in Geography student (Ontario Graduate Scholarship)
    • Connor Dingle, MA in Geography student (Best Major Research Paper)

    Read the full story on the Brock News.

    Graduate student award winners and their supervisors and mentors were among the honorees at the Faculty of Social Sciences Celebration of Excellence. From left, Dawn Zinga, Acting Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, Megan Earle and supervisor Gordon Hodson, Xiaomei Zhou and supervisor Catherine Mondloch, Christie Milliken accepting on behalf of Devon Coutts, Ebru Ustundag accepting on behalf of Connor Dingle, and Ingrid Makus, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

     

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