Geography faculty members Jonathan Burkham, Margo Kleinfeld, Dale Splinter, and Jeff Zimmerman attended the 2013 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, California. In addition to networking with fellow geographers from the United State and round the world the four presented research and served on discussion panels.
Dr. Jonathan Burkham presented a paper titled The End of Migration from Atotonilco El Bajo to Milwaukee: A Transnational Labor Market Ethnography. Abstract: Recent survey data suggests that net migration from Mexico to the U.S. has fallen to zero and may in fact be negative. While extant literature finds the rapid decline in Mexico-U.S. labor migration due primarily to a tight U.S. labor market and strict immigration control, it has been suggested that the pause in labor migration from Mexico to the U.S. may actually be a result of improving labor conditions in Mexico; a declining birth rate, higher educational attainment, and a growing economy are decreasing migration pressures. This paper investigates the rapid decline in Mexico-U.S. migration by taking seriously the argument that educational and economic changes in Mexico are significant contributing factors. However, I argue that the ways in which these factors actually contribute to trends in international labor migration are best understood through an analysis of how they articulate with particular transnational labor markets. Through the author's ethnographic fieldwork in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Atotonilco El Bajo, Mexico, this paper rejects the argument that increasing educational attainment and a diversification of the local labor market in Atotonilco El Bajo are significantly contributing to, what appears to be, the end of migration to Milwaukee.
Dr. Margo Kleinfeld served on a discussion panel called Doing More with Less II: Strategies for Teaching Geography with Shrinking and Shifting Resources. The panel discussion description was: Increasingly, at two-year and four-year public universities, faculty are are asked every year to "do more with less": fit more students into classes, teach a greater variety of courses, incorporate more technology in a meaningful fashion, perform course assessment, all on top of the demanding teaching loads already in place. This Panel Session will speak to these issues that shape our everyday experiences as geography teachers; essentially, we want to assemble a panel to share ideas on how to "do more with less." We encourage anyone who teaches undergraduate geography and is committed to continuing the delivery of quality classroom experiences for their students in the face of the many new challenges of the twenty-first century university workplace to attend this panel. Input from those in attendance is encouraged. We will leave a considerable amount of time to open up the discussion to everyone in attendance.
Dr. Kleinfeld also presented a research paper titled Examining the Principle of Distinction: Can International Humanitarian Law Accommodate Bodies in Space? Abstract: The news media remind us daily of the casual disregard of the civilian immunity norm evidenced by civilian deaths in Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya. This norm, rooted in the "principle of distinction," is one of the pillars of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which differentiates combatant from non-combatant in order to limit human suffering during armed conflict. Helen Kinsella emphasizes the importance of this principle by arguing that it "determines the difference between impermissible and permissible, legitimate and illegitimate, lawful and unlawful acts of war" (2006, 162). The reality, however, is that its implementation, and of IHL more broadly, is uneven at best and more often than not trumped by the principle of military necessity.
While scholars such as Kinsella have provided important geneologies problematizing the norms and principles found in the laws of war, the spatial underpinnings of IHL are rarely analyzed. This paper considers the principle of distinction from the perspective of embodied space by examining proposals to add spatial protections in the form of hospital and security zones to the 1929 Geneva Convention. During debates among legal and medical experts charged with drafting these new rules, protections for civilians were thought to be too problematic to codify into law. The fact that bodies with diverse legal statuses were similarly affected by the violence of war was raised as a counterargument. A close reading of these discussions from the 1930s and 1940s reveals the moral, legal, and technical contradictions found in protecting some bodies in space over others during wartime.
Dr. Dale Splinter also presented research that he had worked on with Geography and Geology student Ron Chester. The presentation was titled Peak Streamflow Analyses in Seven Upper Midwest States. This. Abstract: Since 1880 global climate has warmed 1.5° F and it is projected to change much more rapidly in the upper Midwest over the next century. A report by the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) anticipates that climate will warm 6-7° F in Wisconsin by the middle of the twenty-first century. Estimates of warming for other Midwestern states are similar to those in Wisconsin. In response to the future warming trends, changes to the hydrologic cycle are expected that will facilitate changes to a wide variety of water resources, including floods and extreme low-flow conditions to streams and rivers. For this reason, we have begun to reconstruct the most current flood probabilities and recurrence intervals using peak streamflow for all upper Midwest streams and rivers (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana) that have an uninterrupted discharge records greater than 50 years. Preliminary results are mixed and need further examination; however, trends in the data suggest that peak streamflow has increased over the last 50 years + in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, while in Ohio peak streamflow has decreased. No change in peak streamflow was noticed in Michigan. We attribute increased peak flow to changes in precipitation magnitude and land use change, while decreased peak streamflow over the same timeframe is a result of stream regulation and diversion. However, site-by-site analyses are currently being studied to verify changes in peak streamflow.
Dr. Jeff Zimmerman also presented research titled Measuring Gentrification (and De-Gentrification?) in Milwaukee: Visualizing neighborhood change through an analysis of residential price ratios and demographic data, 2000-2010. Abstract: Like other medium-sized cities in the advanced capitalist world, Milwaukee has been affected by broader global and national trends, including de-industrialization, intensified immigration, suburbanization, the legacy of racialized ghetto formation and gentrification. Most of the research exploring the effects of these transformations on the city, however, has been done using only a "macro" scale level of analysis. This poster reflects collaborative research that focused on measuring the geographic extent and intensity of gentrification in Milwaukee. To do so, this project was organized around two interrelated concerns: First, a detailed spatial analysis of demographic and racial change in the City of Milwaukee was used to visualize and explain the following demographic markers at the census-tract level: population change, (percent increase/decrease, 2000-2010), percent African-American in 2010, the percentage point change in the African-American population, 2000-2010, and the percentage point change in the White population, 2000-2010. Second, residential price ratios were used to empirically measure the geography and intensity of gentrification in those specific neighborhoods where demographic change indicated the likelihood of gentrification. Through a careful description and theoretical analysis of the findings a tentative new "neighborhood typology" for Milwaukee is constructed as well.
An experience in undergraduate research is strongly advised for all Geology Emphasis students, especially for those intending to go to graduate school. There are numerous field and laboratory opportunities for the eager student to assist Department faculty members within established research programs.