Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Humacao to Amazônia

Humacao to Amazônia is a guest lecture I am giving for a combined session of my course on Latin America and my colleague Professor Harris' course on environmental regulations. The slides are offered here for students who wish to follow up on some of the links mentioned in the presentation.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Café no Fogo

NEW: All of my photos from this travel course in one annotated slide show!

After years of preparation and planning, I am leading a travel course on the island of Fogo, Cape Verde -- about 300 miles west of the westernmost point of mainland Africa. Among the island's many fascinating distinctions, it is the only place in the world -- as far as this Coffee Maven knows -- that produces coffee inside an active volcano. This does not mean that the beans are lava-roasted, but it does mean that the farms are in locations that might be displaced at any time by volcanic activity.

On this journey -- jointly sponsored by the Pedro Pires Institute for Cape Verdean Studies, the Department of Geography, and the Office of Study Abroad -- undergraduate and graduate students are doing what I most love to do: using geography to understand coffee and using coffee to understand geography. Our travel is also hosted and supported by the national government, the Universidad do Cabo Verde, and the three municipalities of the island: Mosteiros, São Felipe, and Santa Catarina. 

After a very warm welcome from the municipal authorities in São Felipe, we toured the entire island before revisiting each community. Our first in-depth visit is in Mosteiros, the producer of the island's famous coffee. There we are both learning about the local coffeelands and coffee producers and bringing some perspectives from the wider world of coffee. In fact, this post serves in part to provide a convenient link to some of the images we will be sharing during our visit to the Museu do Café.

(Note that the title of the course is represented on the town seal of Mosteiros!)

From the Coffee Maven's too-big trove of imagery, I have selected a few images to begin the discussion around two questions -- Café De Onde - Café Para Onde.

Finally, I include here a link to the amazing work of Carolyn King, a Cape Verde-American graduate student on this course who described her work on a fascinating museum installation on the connections between Cape Cod and Cape Verde. We can also view the exhibit itself at WHOI Seagrant.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

A Christmas Carol Advent

My favorite librarian and I planned a bit of a literary pursuit for this December that we are now enjoying -- an Advent countdown based on some of the many versions of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. On most of the 25 days, we are watching a film or television adaptation, with a few special activities also included.

Edward Marin's 1938 Version

We have been planning this for over a year, but at the last minute I decided to write about the experience on our catch-all blog called Perry La Perra. From December 1 to 25 of 2023, I am adding to the same post every day. I include a link here so that we can refer friends to it more easily.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Geochron at Open Lab Night

Fellow geographer Dr. Amey and I are using these slides and this worksheet for our November 8 presentation about the use of Geochron to understand earth's seasons. This is part of the BSU-CASE Open Lab Night.

Learn more about our geography department and its people and programs!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Amazônia: Fables to Forests

NOTE to NESTVAL Colleagues: this post is for a short course I am teaching through Bridgewater State University Senior College, beginning October 30. Material related to my presentation at the Portland virtual meeting is at the post entitled Amazon Deforestation in Lula’s Encore

Photo: Cara Reed 2003
I am fortunate to have two very distinct outlets for my current thinking about the region. As I mention in the Lula post, this is the region that turned me into a geographer, and it was my main focus for many years -- before I developed such a strong. affinity for and identity with coffee and coffeelands. 

The Amazon has remained part of my undergraduate teaching all along, but was largely absent from my scholarship and outreach activities for most of two decades. Recent events have brought me back -- both in my thinking and in my travels -- and have led me to the writing project mentioned above and to my first in-person course for BSU Senior College. The intention of both projects, of course, includes improving how I teach about the region in my undergraduate classes. 

See the course main page for the relevant parts of my biography, a full description of the class, and links to all of the materials I will be using. The opening lines of the description introduce this exploration.

The Amazon is a forest, a river, and a fountain of myths. This short course is a six-part exploration of all three, with a focus on one of its most populous but little-recognized parts: Rondônia. 

The outline hints at how we will explore this region in all of its dimensions.

  1. Dinosaurs, Warriors, and a Witch PhD
  2. Aviamento and the Railroad
  3. Missionaries and Linguistics
  4. Tributaries and Confluences
  5. Trajectory of Illusion
  6. Soy and Fire, Beef and Politics 

Música Rondônia on the Planet Sings

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Amazon Deforestation in Lula’s Encore

Deforestation in the Amazon of Brazil is the problem that drew me to the study of geography when I was an undergraduate and led me to do dissertation research in the region in 1996. I did some follow-up work in 2000 and 2003 and have included the region in my teaching ever since. 

It was not until the rise of Jair Bolsonaro that I returned to the region in October 2019 -- at the urging of colleagues in Rondônia who were particularly concerned about both his rhetoric and his policies toward the rain forest. 

The Amazon figured prominently in his political demise, leading me to a series of questions about whether his electoral defeat would improve conditions there. This was made even more interesting by the fact that he was defeated by none other than Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva -- a man known simply as "Squid" who had served two terms as president and some time in prison.

I am exploring all of this in "Amazon Deforestation in Lula's Encore," which I am presenting at the 101st Annual Meeting of the New England & St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society in Portland, Maine on October 28, 2023. This presentation is a stepping stone toward an article I hope to submit for publication later this year.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

F/B Viera VI

The F/B Vieira VI is a vessel that transports many goods and a few passengers between Porto Velho and Manaus, descending the Madeira River -- the longest of the Amazon River's 1,300 tributaries -- and then ascending the main channel of the Amazon to Manaus, where the famous river is formed from the confluence of the Solimões and Negro Rivers. I spent four days on this ship with my friend Miguel, about a dozen passengers, a worthy crew, and perhaps more garlic, plantains, and watermelons than I had seen in my whole life.

Miguel was a very good sport and agreed to charter a small boat on the Amazon just a few hours after the end of the ride. My photos describing this journey are annotated and include the time we spent in Porto Velho and in Manaus after. Both those photos and a number of videos are collected in the Madeira Voyage post on my Environmental Geography blog.