Updates: Fall 2017

Summer is finally subsiding, and classes are in full swing. So, here are a few updates and notes on things upcoming.

  Approaching Las Vegas.

Approaching Las Vegas.

Ground-Truthing GIS in America
Much of the summer was spent either traveling or preparing to travel: on-the-ground verification of recent research and in-the-field sense-making of new visualizations of several mid-sized American cities. About half of the case study cities have been covered (and I've re-learned how to drive), with the other half scheduled for this fall. All this is generously supported by a junior faculty grant from Columbia's Provost office, for the project DISTANCED: Intersectionality and Gendered Experiences of American Urban SpaceA few new papers are in the works, and earlier this month I had the pleasure of presenting some of the methodological process to students in a talk "Critical Distance: Notes on GIS from the Ground" within the school's Lectures in Planning Series. For now, here's an intentionally vague image of what's been on my screen lately.

  What's been on my screen: The aformentioned intentionally vague map of San Diego.

What's been on my screen: The aformentioned intentionally vague map of San Diego.

One of those cities was Houston, where I spent several days covering its neighborhoods and those of the surrounding suburbs, about a week before Hurricane Harvey altered the social and physical landscape. A few months of analysis and 2,500 photographs later, I'm grateful to have seen the city; and as we continue to wrestle with its effects—as well as the aftermath of Irma and Maria—I am considering what the pre-hurricane representations of the city offer us in recovery.

  Density & Connectivity: Land Use in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York at the McCagg Gallery, Barnard College. (image: Tola Oniyangi)

Density & Connectivity: Land Use in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York at the McCagg Gallery, Barnard College. (image: Tola Oniyangi)

Urban Humanities + GIS
"Density and Connectivity: Land Use in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York" a collection of works with Gergely Baics—four cartographic panels, each featuring several maps at different scales—was exhibited at Barnard College in February and March. The work is currently on view at the Metropolitan New York Library Council through the fall. Since then, we've also had the opportunity to speak on our ongoing collaboration, including the greater-than-the-sum-of-our-parts nature of Humanities GIS research: keynoting "Humanizing Data: Data, Humanities, and the City" at NYU in April and leading an open biohistory group seminar at the University of Copenhagen in June. 

Continuing to reap from the fertile ground of Urban History GIS (it's the gift that keeps giving), Baics and I will be presenting two papers at the Social Science History Association conference in Montreal this November. One comparatively tests some of the metrics developed for 19th-C New York during the period in Montreal; the other, coauthored with Mikkel Thelle, investigates residential mobility and (in)stability in Copenhagen at the turn of the 20th century. 

I was delighted to, once again, teach with the Center for Spatial Research at Columbia this summer. Their Mapping for the Urban Humanities faculty bootcamp in GIS in humanities research is among the highlights of my year—even beyond my taking any chance for critical GIS evangelism, I delight in meeting new colleagues as they make that all-important spatial turn.

  from  Introduction to GIS, Spring 2017 .    (Tola Oniyangi & Joan Zhang)

from Introduction to GIS, Spring 2017.
(Tola Oniyangi & Joan Zhang)

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Back to School
Having finished up the first year in my new role at Columbia, the summer also afforded a chance to assess some of the teaching changes and consider my courses moving forward. Last year's GIS course, as well as my Digital Restructuring of Urban Space seminar and thesis advising, was an absolute blast. Long-awaited additions to some of the teaching archive (for example here), have finally come to pass. 

I have also returned to Rikers Island with the Rikers Education Program at Columbia's Center for Justice. The newly renamed Building Justice Studio is gearing up for the fall class, and I'm looking forward to presenting some of the work at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning conference next month in Denver during a special session on urban planning and mass incarceration.