GEOG 320 Visit to the East TN History Center ‘Come to Make Records’

My Cultural Geography class paid a visit to the Come to Make Records Exhibit at the East Tennessee History Center this Tuesday as part of our unit on musical geography. Photographic evidence below. We got there a few minutes late because we relied on the Vol Trolley (now the Orange Line) for transport from campus and had to navigate around more than one construction pit downtown, but otherwise the excursion was a complete success and the students enjoyed it. Special thanks to Eric Dawson of the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound (TAMIS) for giving us a great tour, talking about how important the site and situation of Knoxville were in the St. James Hotel recording sessions of 1929 and 1930.

The exhibit runs through the end of October (last day on Sunday, October 30th), so you still have one week to go and see it if you haven’t yet. Admission is only $5 for non-members, and free on Sundays.

Dischord Records: A Roundtable

Bandcamp Daily

Minor Threat
Minor Threat. Photo © 1980 by Susie Josephson Horgan.

There are few labels that capture the pulsating beat of a particular music scene better than Dischord did for Washington D.C. punk in the ’80s and ’90s. To mark the occasion of the entire Dischord digital catalog coming to Bandcamp (plus vinyl from Minor Threat and Fugazi), we sat down with a few people who were there in the early days and still hold the label near and dear.

Joe Gross hails from Falls Church, Virginia. He has written for Spin, Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, the Washington CityPaper, Radio On and others and is working on a 33 ⅓ book on Fugazi’s In On The Kill Taker. He covers culture, popular and un-, for the Austin American-Statesman, and lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

Aaron Leitko is a musician and journalist based in Washington…

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Help Map a Historically Black Cemetery in East Knoxville


Attention people interested in GIS and small-scale mapping!

My good friend Maegan Dennison from the UT-Knoxville Anthropology Department is heading up a new service project that will spearhead field mapping, GIS, and web mapping for the Odd Fellows Cemetery in East Knoxville. The field work would take place in the Spring before the vegetation starts growing back so likely January – March 2017. I’ll be passing this announcement on to my students in GEOG 320, but I wanted to get the word out here in case anybody may be interested in learning more about, and contributing to, this historically black cemetery.

If you’re interested and/or looking for more information, you can email Maegan at mdenniso [at] vols [dot] utk [dot] edu.

Five Nifty (and Funded!) New Projects at West Virginia University Looking for Geographers

I just saw this posting come through a listserv and felt the need to pass it along here, for anyone who may be looking forward to a well-funded graduate program and may be interested in this surprisingly diverse set of research topics in West Virginia. Good luck! – Tyler

The Geography Program at West Virginia University is currently recruiting five funded graduate students for 2017-18 academic year.  WVU Geography offers both Masters and Doctoral degrees and a rigorous certificate program in Geographic Information Science.  Our rapidly growing graduate program is composed of 19 core geography faculty with expertise in the interdisciplinary subfields of Human Geography, Environmental Geography and GIScience (  WVU Geography faculty are engaged in local, regional and global research focused on human-environment relations, climate change, political geography, spatial science, digital humanities, forest ecosystem modeling, cultural and political ecologies, conservation science, feminist geography, science and technology studies, humanitarianism, land change science, critical cartographies, food justice, and development geography.  Faculty are currently conducting research in South Asia, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, East Asia and the United States, including Appalachia.

The geography faculty are recruiting for 5 Graduate Research Assistant positons on funded projects.  Applicants interested in the Graduate Research Assistantships described below are encouraged to contact the research faculty prior to applying. Applicants must submit a CV and research statement addressing specific interests and qualifications for the potential research topics outlined below. In addition to the specific qualifications for these positions, potential candidates must meet the admission standards and be fully accepted into the Geology & Geography Department at WVU. Transcripts, test scores, and all other completed application materials are due January 1, 2017 for Fall 2017 admission. You can access the application portal here:

Funded projects include:

Human Dimensions of Water in Appalachia
This study will focus on the dual nature of water in West Virginia: a resource towards economic transition and/or a source of concern due to its polluted and destructive nature. This study will be based on a case study methodology where experience with qualitative methods is required and knowledge of GIS is welcomed.


Faculty Information:  Dr. Martina Angela Caretta,

Social Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in Botswana
This research project is based in the Okavango Delta, Botswana and focuses on understanding how existing social vulnerabilities related to gender and ethnicity result in differential adaptive capacities for people in changing environments. RA responsibilities will include assistance with research design, fieldwork in remote locations, and data analysis.


Faculty Information: Dr. Jamie Shinn,

Mapping Wildfire Burn Severity in the New Jersey Pinelands using WorldView-3 imagery, Mobile Terrestrial Lidar and Aerial Lidar
Mobile ground-based lidar and aerial lidar, in conjunction with WorldView-3 satellite imagery, offers new opportunities for mapping wildfire burn severity using remote sensing.  RA responsibilities will focus on ground and aerial lidar analysis; prior experience with working with lidar for vegetation analysis is preferred.


Faculty Information: Dr. Tim Warner;

Food Justice and Cooperative Development in Appalachia
This research fellowship is housed within the Food Justice Lab at WVU and focuses on food sovereignty and the potential of cooperative enterprises in advancing social and economic change in West Virginia and Appalachia more broadly. RA responsibilities will include research assistance on the WV FOODLINK community food security project ( supported by USDA and regional foundation grants. GIS background is desired.  Fellows will join a dynamic community of graduate students in the Food Justice Lab who are advancing alternative economic futures.


Faculty Information: Dr. Bradley Wilson,

Personal Virtual Reality (VR) System for Geovisualization
The goal of this project is developing framework and applications of personal VR system centered in geovisualization for spatial analysis, science communication, geography education, and many more areas of geography. RA will be required to have some experience of computer programming and GIS software.


Faculty Information: Dr. Insu Hong,

Funding Packages:
Doctoral Applicants: Funded Ph.D. students will be guaranteed 3 years of funding contingent upon progress within the program and are eligible for continued funding in years 4 and 5, based upon performance.

Master’s Applicants: Funded M.A. students are guaranteed 1 year of funding contingent upon progress within the program and are eligible for continued funding in year 2, based upon performance.

Program and University Information:
WVU recently attained R1 Carnegie Ranking and Geography is a respected Program of Excellence at the university.  We are located in Morgantown, a vibrant town repeatedly ranked as one of the best small cities in the country ( and located just 75 miles south of Pittsburgh.  The Geography Program is housed in a state of the art research facility and students have access to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities in the East (

West Virginia University is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer dedicated to building a culturally diverse and pluralistic faculty, staff and students committed to working in a multicultural environment. The university welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, including minorities, females, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.

ANTIFA: Paris in the 80’s

Thanks for the support on the last post about our GEOG 320 Project. I’ve got more coming soon from the Cultural Geography class, as well as some news about a couple of local and regional presentations I’ll be making this fall!


A fight breaks out against Neo-Nazi skinheads in the crowd at the final R.A.S. show, 1984. Photo courtesy of Philippe Roizes, all rights reserved.

In the meantime, here is the most fascinating way you could spend your next hour-and-change. ‘ANTIFA: Chasseurs de Skins’ presents 1980’s Paris in all of her brutal reality. Some friends of mine had a conversation about just how much music influenced personal identity and clannish behavior for Generation X. This often played out politically in violently reactionary pockets of Western Europe on the heels of the “no future” era and international malaise of the 1970’s. Class struggles became, at the behest of the political right, “racial” and political struggles, and these played themselves out in the punk scenes in and around Paris for several years. It’s easy to forget how a band like Berurier Noir could have had such a profound impact outside of just music.

One thing that hit me while watching this was, comparatively, how pacifist the North American left is versus the French, Spanish, and British left(s). Actual progressive voices get quelled easily here (and the ones that don’t, well, have been putting their foot in their mouths of late). This is, among many other reasons, why the Presidential nominee of a major party has been able to succeed on a platform of symbolic (and actual) violence at a grassroots level. Unsurprisingly, violence is the only rejoinder many of these people understand or respect. Racists, Islamophobes, and other people who lack the inherent ability to think critically (or at all, really) have little reason to fear bricks to the head or other such retaliation, so they behave in an animalistic way and refuse to practice compassion. But then again, that’s just one American’s opinion and interpretation of a wonderfully done documentary.

For more context, see this article about the Black Dragon gang of anti-racism warriors and an accompanying documentary in the same style.

Today in GEOG 320: What Makes the South “the South?”


This was the 5th result when I googled “the South.” (via a listicle-type article on ’19 Reasons why Southern Florida really isn’t “the South.”‘)

This morning in my GEOG 320 class, I introduced and discussed the concept of vernacular regions. That is, large-scale places that tend to be united by an idea rather than political borders (e.g. state lines) or physical borders (e.g. rivers). Because this class meets in Eastern Tennessee (a vernacular region usually defined by the Cumberland Plateau on the West and the NC border on the East) and many students are from this area, we split up into groups and decided to make brainstormed lists of what makes the South “the South.” The responses came from individuals from various points within the South as well as people who never lived in the South until college. The associations all had positive and negative connotations, depending on who you’d ask.

We only had time to get a small sample of each group’s list, but here are a good handful of things that make the south “The South” to get the conversation going.

  • The Mason-Dixon Line
    This formulates “the South” in the classic, antebellum sense, as the British astronomers Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon drew this to settle a border dispute between the Pennsylvania and Maryland colonies in the 18th century. Unsurprisingly, this meaning of this arbitrary line have changed over the years. Most Marylanders, including one member of our class, do not consider themselves Southerners. The same goes for DC, though it does have a big Southern cultural imprint on it.
  • Football & the SEC in General
    More than one group led the conversation with Football. There are few aspects of Southern cultural life that don’t tie into the gridiron in some way. Obviously, this isn’t unique to the South, as many cities outside of the vernacular region (Columbus, OH for example) take great pride in football and their cities transform on any given Sunday (or Saturday…or in some cases, Thursdays now).
  • The “Bible Belt”
    One student mentioned that she worked at an ice cream parlor in Pigeon Forge for some time. They would usually play the local classic rock station in the background, and more than once on Sunday afternoons, an older person would come to the counter and call it “inappropriate” to be playing music (at least something so secular) on the Lord’s day. This was one of many ways that living within “the Bible Belt” (a typically derogatory term) affects people here on that micro level. Again, this is not unique to The South, though stereotypically it’s more present here.
  • Regional Pride
    An abstract idea that’s hardly unique to the South, but it’s something that Southerners of all stripes and throughout the political spectrum have in droves. This often connects with Football.
  • Cooking
    This is a huge one, especially now that Southern cuisine is so popular that it’s even popping up internationally in places like London and Paris. I loved asking people for examples of this, because we heard several fun stories from those who’ve worked in the service industry. Here are some sub-topics within the foods that make the South “the South:”

    • Sugar and Fats
    • “Meat & 3”
    • Cornbread
    • Mac & Cheese
    • BBQ
    • Soup Beans
    • Fried Chicken
    • Shrimp Boils
    • Sweet Tea
    • Biscuits and Gravy
    • French-Influenced/Creole Food (this came from a student who grew up in Southern Mississippi, where Creole culture and Cajun food is much more prominent, closer to the Gulf).
    • “Comfort food” meaning larger people (Texas, we’re looking at you).
  • Clothing
    We didn’t get into this one quite as much, but one student did bring up Chacos and Camouflage, which are both worn all over the world but seem to have a pretty big role in Southern fashion.
  • Upbringing / Economy / Farming
    Although the South has become a major industrial manufacturing center over the past few decades, ideas about “the South” still revolve around the bucolic small-town, rural agrarian community. Farming still plays a big role in Southern legend, and it also feeds into the idea of…
  • Southern Hospitality vs. the “Fast” North
    Life in the South is, by all accounts, slow, and that’s the way many people like it. Cities like New York and DC have people zipping everywhere, but in the South people tend to take it easy. This is, of course, changing with many Southern cities growing at a fast rate, largely due to people migrating in from these smaller towns, as well as big Northern cities. Many of the middle-class people moving down from the North become known as…
  • Nashville (and Atlanta) Hipsters
    This is always a funny conversation. Both of these cities, on either side of us in Knoxville (not to say there aren’t plenty of hipsters here, too) are blowing up and with it come people priced out of Bohemian lifestyles in more expensive cities. Cities like Nashville, Atlanta, Savannah, New Orleans, and more have become cradles of new life for artists from all over the U.S.
  • Less of a Melting Pot / More Racism
    Racism is the unfortunate reality of anywhere less diverse (and even many diverse places as well). But since the South has been slower to diversify than other more urbanized regions, the stereotype of the racist Southerner has persisted. Also, the region’s history of institutionalized racism doesn’t help, but like everything, it’s changing.
  • Conservative
    The past few elections have seen a shift in classically “Red” Southern states like Virginia and North Carolina. This time around, there’s a good chance that Georgia and South Carolina may even go blue, given the growth of Atlanta, Savannah, and Charleston with more progressive population sets. That being said, “the South” is still a largely right-wing and conservative vernacular region, voting for more hard-line candidates and more influenced by the Baptist Church (see: the “Bible Belt.”)
  • Tourism / Guest Workers
    With the summer tourist season, the region attracts tons of guest workers from all over the world here on temporary visa programs, including Russia and Mongolia. One student actually mentioned how many French workers (some here illegally) are in Lexington working on Horse farms there. I had no clue.
  • Country Music / Bluegrass
    Though I did mention Dolly Parton as a symbol of Americana abroad, this one didn’t come up until a student stopped by on her way out of class and added it, since it was on her group’s list and they didn’t get down to it. This is a BIG one, as the music of “the South” has absolutely changed the world. Country Music’s industry is centered on Nashville (though country stars come from everywhere), and Bluegrass music (largely the province of rural Appalachia, much of which “the South” claims) has seen a major upsurge in popularity over the past decade.

It’s fun teaching cultural geography in the South because conversations like this can both teach many concepts in the subject, but can also go on for days. I’m sure that we left out plenty, too.

AAG Short Films, Boston 2017


via the Onion A/V Club. The Lord helps those that help themselves, man.

I recently discovered that the 2017 AAG Meeting in Boston will be hosting the first annual geographic film session, called AAG Shorts. That is so cool. I’m glad to see that filmmakers have the opportunity to screen that work in an academic setting, particularly as someone who uses film, music, and even film-music to illustrate the importance of cultural geography in my classes. One of my few major regrets in life was letting film making slip out of my set of hobbies at the end of the 2000’s. At the time (before I was actively pursuing Geography as a career), some friends and I produced a handful of short films and sketches, which I’ll be going through to see if I have anything that may be relevant or appropriate for submission here. Or, if you have the time and resources to whip something together now, you have 6 weeks.

Regardless, I’ll copy and paste the call for films below the line in case anybody in the Boston area or anyone planning on attending AAG are looking for a new alternative outlet for your project.  Good luck!

New for 2017 in Boston!

Call for submissions of short films for AAG Shorts

Are you a geographer who has produced a short film – or are you thinking of using film in your research? If so then submit your film to AAG shorts launching at next years AAG meeting in Boston. Successful applicants will be invited onto a panel for a special Q&A session. A selection of the films will also be uploaded to the AAG website.

Deadline for submission 30 September 2016

How to apply:

  1. Send your film via a file transfer service such as wetransfer or myairbridge to or if a DVD by date-stamped post to: Jessica Jacobs Queen Mary University of London Mile End E1 4NS London UK
  2. Submit your film details here

Sponsored by Media and Communication Geography

Terms and Conditions

  1. Films can be made specifically for AAG Shorts – or already have been produced for other reasons.
  2. Because this is the first year any year of production and length will be accepted. However the preferred length is 20 minutes or less.
  3. Preview Format DVD or online secure screener (.eg. Vimeo). You can also submit your film (H.264, mp4, avi etc) via file transfer (e.g. myairbridge) Trailers will not be accepted.
  4. Applicants need to say whether they will be registering to attend the meeting.
  5. No film may be withdrawn from the programme once it has been selected
  6. A copy of each selected film will be kept by the AAG Shorts Panel as part of the archive and for internal purposes.