Colloquium Schedule

Friday, Feb 10th
Natural History, Conservation Biology and Political Ecology at UK?—Bluegrass Versus Appalachia!
Dr. Julian Campbell
3:30 pm
Room 114 Whitehall Classroom Building

Natural History is the largely descriptive study of species, plus their ecologies, habitats and distributions. It has now dwindled at the University of Kentucky (UK) to only occasional progress, with just 0-2 theses or dissertations per year. Conservation Biology is the application of natural history and its ecological developments to guide conservation. There are 1-10 theses or dissertations per year with a significant component of this type. Political Ecology is the interaction of society and politics with ecology and conservation. Growing out of geography and human ecology, this nebulous field has exploded after the 1980s. Since 2011 there is an annual conference at UK (DOPE), organized mostly by graduate students of Geography, Anthropology and Philosophy. In Feb 2016, this conference included over 150 presentations, with speakers from across the USA and elsewhere. I suggest that the Political Ecology conference (which has been wonderful for sure) place a more focus on the problems within Kentucky. Conservation should become a central application of all three disciplines. I explore this problem here through comparison of challenges for conservation in Appalachian Kentucky versus the Bluegrass region. I make special reference to a controversial project in each case: Robinson Forest and Griffith Woods, both of which have involved UK.

Dr. Julian Campbell received his bachelors degree from Cambridge and a Masters of Science at the University of Wales.  He received his PhD at the University of Kentucky in 1980.  Dr. Campbell worked for almost 20 years for The Nature Conservancy in Kentucky.  He is now a private consultant on the environment.  His main interests are plant ecology and conservation, especially in east-central North America. He is involved in several horticultural projects on native plants, starting with work for UK in 1986 to collect material for the Arboretum on Alumni Drive. Currently, he is growing several local species for use in central Bluegrass. He also works with the New York Botanical Garden on basic taxonomy of ash trees in the face of threat from Emerald Ash Borer.  His goal is to advocate for more coordinated cooperation amongst plants-people, who historically tend to be loners and poorly organized, if at all, for political purposes.

Friday, Feb 3rd
Unmapped Woods: Exploring Appalachian Forests and Commons
Dr. Kathryn Newfont
University of Kentucky Department of History
3:30 pm
Room 114 Whitehall Classroom Building

This presentation will consider the many ways in which Appalachian forests, the most diverse temperate forests on earth, have challenged efforts to render them "knowable." Physical, biological, and historical factors have contributed layers of complexity to these landscapes and rendered them difficult to map, deed, list and catalog. Culture has added further layers of complexity, including a vibrant tradition of commons.The resulting matrix both puzzles and compels its most dedicated students, and offers insights useful far beyond the ridges.

Dr. Kathryn Newfont is an environmental historian with the University of Kentucky history department and Appalachian Studies program. Her first book, Blue Ridge Commons: Environmental Activism and Forest History in Western North Carolina, looked at wilderness, petroleum, and clearcut timber harvesting on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in the 1970s-1980s. It won the Appalachian Studies Association’s 2012 Weatherford Award for Non-fiction and the 2012 Thomas Wolfe Literary Award. Her recent project, The Land Speaks: Voices from the Intersection of Oral and Environmental History, co-edited with Debbie Lee of the University of Washington, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press (Fall 2017). She is currently researching the “Monongahela Case,” a landmark suit brought by West Virginians that changed U.S. forest management policy in the 1970s and continues to shape it the present day. Newfont has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of North Carolina, and the Appalachian College Association.

Friday, Jan 20th
Politics Below the Surface: A Political Ecology of Mineral Rights and Land Tenure Struggles in Appalachia and the Andes
Lindsay Shade, PhD Candidate
University of Kentucky Dept of Geography
3:30 pm
Room 114 Whitehall Classroom Building

This talk focuses how confusion and lack of access to information about subsurface property rights facilitates the rapid acquisition of rights by mining interests, leaving those who live 'above the surface' to contend with complicated corporate and bureaucratic apparatuses. It examines the first proposed state-run large scale mining project in Ecuador, believed to contain copper ores, and the natural gas hydrofracking industry in three counties in north central West Virginia. The comparison allows consideration of how subsurface governance patterns across legal and cultural systems contribute to the long-term persistence of absentee ownership and control over land in Ecuador and West Virginia, and likewise is implicated in larger scale violences and silences in resource conflicts.

Lindsay Shade is a political ecologist and legal geographer who works with groups and individuals who are directly impacted by extractive industries. Through their collaboration and support, she studies land tenure and mining rights with an emphasis on social and environmental justice issues in the Americas.


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