140 episodes

Interviews with Geographers about their New Books

New Books in Geography New Books Network

    • Social Sciences

Interviews with Geographers about their New Books

    Matt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)

    Matt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)

    Paradox is a sophisticated kind of magic trick. A magician's purpose is to create the appearance of impossibility, to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Yet paradox doesn't require tangibles, like rabbits or hats. Paradox works in the abstract, with words and concepts and symbols, to create the illusion of contradiction. There are no contradictions in reality, but there can appear to be. In Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020), Matt Cook and a few collaborators dive deeply into more than 75 paradoxes in mathematics, physics, philosophy, and the social sciences. As each paradox is discussed and resolved, Cook helps readers discover the meaning of knowledge and the proper formation of concepts―and how reason can dispel the illusion of contradiction.
    The journey begins with “a most ingenious paradox” from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. Readers will then travel from Ancient Greece to cutting-edge laboratories, encounter infinity and its different sizes, and discover mathematical impossibilities inherent in elections. They will tackle conundrums in probability, induction, geometry, and game theory; perform “supertasks”; build apparent perpetual motion machines; meet twins living in different millennia; explore the strange quantum world―and much more.
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    • 54 min
    Steven Seegel, "Map Men: Transnational Lives and Deaths of Geographers in the Making of East Central Europe" (U Chicago Press, 2018)

    Steven Seegel, "Map Men: Transnational Lives and Deaths of Geographers in the Making of East Central Europe" (U Chicago Press, 2018)

    Steven Seegel’s Map Men: Transnational Lives and Deaths of Geographers in the Making of East Central Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2018) is an insightful contribution to the history of map making which is written through and by individual geographers/cartographers/map men. The book focuses primarily on four countries: Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine. When guiding his reader through the entanglements of transnational endeavors of making maps, Seegel zeroes in on personal stories of five, what he calls, characters/protagonists: Albrecht Penck, Eugeniusz Romer, Stepan Rudnyts’kyi, Isaiah Bowman, and Count Pal Teleki. An individual story is an archive of biographical data and statistics, but it also opens up an entire world of history and geography that provides an insight into geopolitical decisions which eventually change and impact lives of those who happen to be part of this map journey. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Map Men offers a personalized version of how maps are drawn and made. At first glance, maps may seem stable and crystalized. However, as Seegel insightfully shows, this is an illusion: maps are fantasies, as he puts it in this interview. This understanding of maps does not in any way minimize the science that lies behind the map creating. However, what Map Men does is show the making of maps in their multiple and at times complex and intertwined processes: maps are points of references, but maps are also texts which invite a diversity of stories and interpretations.
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    • 46 min
    Jessie Labov, "Transatlantic Central Europe: Contesting Geography and Redefining Culture beyond the Nation" (Central European UP, 2019)

    Jessie Labov, "Transatlantic Central Europe: Contesting Geography and Redefining Culture beyond the Nation" (Central European UP, 2019)

    While there are still occasional uses of it today, the term "Central Europe" carries little of the charge that it did in the 1980s and early 1990s, and as a political and intellectual project it has receded from the horizon. Proponents of a distinct cultural profile of these countries―all involved now in the process of Transatlantic integration―used "Central European", as a contestation with the geo-political label of Eastern Europe.
    In Transatlantic Central Europe: Contesting Geography and Redefining Culture beyond the Nation (Central European University Press, 2019), Jessie Labov discusses the transnational set of practices connecting journals with other media in the mid-1980s, disseminating the idea of Central Europe simultaneously in East and West. A range of new methodologies, including GIS-mapping visualization, is used, repositing the political-cultural journal as one central node of a much larger cultural system. What has happened to the liberal humanist philosophy that "Central Europe" once evoked? In the early years of the transition era, the liberal humanist perspective shared by Havel, Konrád, Kundera, and Michnik was quickly replaced by an economic liberalism that evolved into neoliberal policies and practices. The author follows the trajectories of the concept into the present day, reading its material and intellectual traces in the post-communist landscape. She explores how the current use of transnational, web-based media follows the logic and practice of an earlier, 'dissident' generation of writers.
    Jessie Labov is the Director of Academic and Institutional Development at McDaniel College Budapest, and a Resident Fellow in the Center for Media, Data and Society, at Central European University.
    Steven Seegel is a professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado.
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    • 54 min
    Diane Jones Allen, "Lost in the Transit Desert: Race, Transit Access, and Suburban Form" (Routledge, 2017)

    Diane Jones Allen, "Lost in the Transit Desert: Race, Transit Access, and Suburban Form" (Routledge, 2017)

    Increased redevelopment, the dismantling of public housing, and increasing housing costs are forcing a shift in migration of lower income and transit dependent populations to the suburbs. These suburbs are often missing basic transportation, and strategies to address this are lacking. This absence of public transit creates barriers to viable employment and accessibility to cultural networks, and plays a role in increasing social inequality.
    In her book Lost in the Transit Desert: Race, Transit Access, and Suburban Form (Routledge, 2017), Diane Jones Allen investigates how housing and transport policy have played their role in creating these "Transit Deserts," and what impact race has upon those likely to be affected. Jones Allen uses research from New Orleans, Baltimore, and Chicago to explore the forces at work in these situations, as well as proposing potential solutions. Mapping, interviews, photographs, and narratives all come together to highlight the inequities and challenges in Transit Deserts, where a lack of access can make all journeys, such as to jobs, stores, or relatives, much more difficult. Alternatives to public transit abound, from traditional methods such as biking and carpooling to more culturally specific tactics, and are examined comprehensively.
    This is valuable reading for students and researchers interested in transport planning, urban planning, city infrastructure, and transport geography.
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    • 47 min
    Nancy Appelbaum, "Mapping the Country of Regions: The Chorographic Commission of Nineteenth-Century Colombia" (UNC Press, 2016)

    Nancy Appelbaum, "Mapping the Country of Regions: The Chorographic Commission of Nineteenth-Century Colombia" (UNC Press, 2016)

    In the mid-nineteenth century, the Chorographic Commission of Colombia, an ambitious geographical expedition, set out to define and map a nascent and still unstable republic. The commission’s purpose was to survey the land, its resources and people, and portray Colombia as a nation prone to the “wonders” of modernization.
    In Mapping the Country of Regions: The Chorographic Commission of Nineteenth-Century Colombia (University of North Carolina Press, 2016), Nancy P. Appelbaum reconstructs how elites, through visual and textual methodologies, envisioned the nation and its component parts. In particular, the books focuses on a dilemma that has characterized modern nation formation in Latin America and the world: how is it possible to build and represent a unified nation while simultaneously showcasing regional diversity and particularity? In the case of Colombia, how did Commissioners solved the tension between aspirational homogeneity and the regional heterogeneity found on the ground? As this fascinating interview tells us, racial and gendered stereotypes were used to solve this paradox. Unsuccessful in their quest for unity, the commissioners represented the highland regions as white and civilized, while the lowlands were allegedly black, backward, and savage. This in turn created a dichotomy that still haunts the way in which we, Colombians, understand our country today.
    Lisette Varón-Carvajal is a PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. You can tweet her and suggest books at @LisetteVaron.
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    • 59 min
    Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins, "Waste Siege: The Life of Infrastructure in Palestine" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins, "Waste Siege: The Life of Infrastructure in Palestine" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    Waste Siege: The Life of Infrastructure in Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2019) is an ethnography of Palestinian life under occupation that takes waste infrastructures as a starting point for exploring how Palestinians deal with toxicity and uncertainty, how governance happens under conditions of uncertainty, and how everyday goods circulate in and out of multiple moral economies and waste streams. In this episode of New Books in Anthropology, author Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins talks to host Jacob Doherty about the politics of garbage, sewage, second-hand goods, food waste, and landfills in the West Bank. Waste offers Stamatopoulou-Robbins a unique vantage point for understanding everyday life under occupation, the role of environmental discourse in the production and destruction of sovereignty, the ways nationalism is produced through infrastructure, and the modes of governance that emerge in the “phantom state.”
    Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins is an assistant professor of anthropology at Bard College.
    Jacob Doherty is a lecturer in the Anthropology of Development at the University of Edinburgh.
     
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    • 1 hr 20 min

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