Geography Colloquium Schedule – Spring 2020

Please join us Fridays from 12:20-1:10PM in 234 Wallace Hall (unless otherwise noted)

February 28, 12:20 - 1:10 at Wallace 234.
Timothy D. Baird.

Title: The importance of accidental ties: mobile phones and wrong numbers among Maasai in East Africa.

Abstract: The Strength of Weak Ties by Mark Granovetter (1973) is one of the most cited papers in all of science. It describes how individuals are more likely to find employment through friends of friends, or “weak ties”, than through their “strong ties” with close family and friends. This idea has served as a center of gravity around which scholarship on social networks and diffusion has orbited for decades. Since this paper, the internet and mobile technologies have transformed the ways in which social networks are created and evolve. In this presentation, I will share new observations about how social networks can change from our ongoing study of Maasai communities in northern Tanzania. During our field season in the summer of 2018, our research team discovered that Maasai men create new social ties through wrong numbers. This process begins when an individual simply mis-keys a phone number and places a call, as would happen anywhere in world. When the call is answered, and the parties discover the error, one of two things can happen: (1) the individuals end the call; or (2) they begin to chat. This presentation is about what happens when Maasai began to chat.


February 14, 12:20 - 1:10 at Wallace 234.
Rebecca J. Williams

Title:  Expanding power, contracting hope: The influence of gang and narcotrafficking intrusion into rural Honduras on community cohesion, livelihoods, and trans-national migration

 Synopsis:  The “migration crisis” in the US has governments, development organizations, and the public in an uproar over what is causing the migration, who is at fault, and what should be done about it. Is the high level of violence in Honduras, which has one of the highest intentional homicide rates in the world, triggering the mass migration? Or is it the influence of climate change on agriculture and food security? Is it the high levels of unemployment, particularly among youth? In this talk, Dr. Williams will present preliminary findings from new research into the  systems relationship between food insecurity, climate change, youth unemployment, epistemic violence, masculinities, the breakdown of community, and how these issues are resulting in migration as a primary livelihood strategy. She will explore these issues in light of a previously unexplored issue of gang and narcotrafficking intrusion and presence in rural areas of Honduras and how this influences the decision to migrate. The three qualitative case studies that will be presented illustrate the dominant issues that are reflected on a wide scale in the five municipalities where the study took place, and point to the connection between social, economic, and ecological collapse as the driving force behind transnational migration from rural Honduras.

 Bio:  Dr. Rebecca J. (Becky) Williams’ research has two primary focuses including the connections between climate change, violence, and migration; and gender and participatory development with a focus on natural resources and indigenous communities. Dr. Williams is an Assistant Research Scientist with the Office for Global Research Engagement and the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems at the University of Florida. Dr. Williams also teaches as adjunct faculty in the Center for Latin American Studies and frequently guest lectures in the Master of Sustainable Development Practice program. Dr. Williams holds an M.S. from Florida State University in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in Interdisciplinary Ecology with a focus on Tropical Conservation and Development.