Saturday, April 28 at 2:00 PM
Evelyn L. Pruitt National Fellowship for Dissertation Research Fellows Carolyn Fish and Nari Senanayake
Carolyn Fish: “Climate Change Media Mapping”
Climate change is a multi-dimensional complex issue which has significant and unpredictable impacts on the environment and society (IPCC 2014). Climate researchers face the challenge of communicating the science to a broad audience. In turn, the media and science outreach programs aim to bridge the gap between science and the public. As such, the media must balance the complexity of the science with making this issue relatable, tangible, and understandable for a broad audience. My dissertation research investigates how maps are used to communicate climate change to the general public by the media. Maps have already been shown to be particularly advantageous for conveying the geographically uneven causes and effects of climate change, but less is understood about how and what aspects of maps may be most advantageous for communication. As a theoretical contribution to the field of geovisualization, environmental communication, and cartography, my research establishes a metric for evaluating the vividness of maps. The effect of vividness, identified in the communication domain, is used to describe content which excites and provokes the imagination; attracts and holds attention; elicits emotional interest; and is proximate spatially and temporally. This effect has been shown to change readers’ attitudes and behaviors. My research identifies the variables of a map that make it vivid through a series of interviews I conducted with media cartographers, and identifies how maps of climate change employ these aspects. My case study on climate change maps is one example where vividness may be beneficial due to the contention surrounding climate change and the need to urgently mitigate and adapt.
Nari Senanayake: “Tracing the shifting In/visibility of CKDu in Dry Zone Sri Lanka”
Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology (CKDu) is a mystery illness that not only frustrates scientific attempts to explain its cause but also, evades clear-cut systems of biomedical classification. In fact, CKDu only exists as a distinct disease category by excluding known risk factors and known causes of kidney disease. Stated simply, it is an illness that it is defined by what it is not. Drawing from research in rural Sri Lanka, I examine three inter-related sites of knowledge production about this mystery illness: the laboratory, the clinic, and regional health statistics. In each of these settings I analyze the instability of CKDu, illustrating how its status as a distinct category of disease shifts across space and scale. Additionally, I examine how uncertainty about this mystery illness is reconfigured through practices of clinical pragmatism in ways that profoundly shape opportunities for effective disease management. I discuss the implications of these findings for the discipline of geography, arguing geographers can enrich existing studies of uncertainty with their perspectives on scale, spatiality, place, and human-environment relations.