05 March 2024

Heo/Geo Lecture Series 2024-03: Jake Atienza on epistemic violence and the erasure of Bisayan epistemologies

While mining can be a site for literal extraction, can it also be deployed epistemologically to excavate the "murder of knowledges"?

The UP Department of Geography and the Philippine Geographical Society present the third Heo/Geo Lecture Series for 2024. The lecture will be delivered by Jake Atienza who draws from his research on mining in Cebu, and builds discursive paths towards responding to the foregoing question. Entitled Written Out of the Narrative: Knowledge Production as Mining Violence in the Cebuano Bureaucracy, the talk happens on Friday, 8 March 2024 at 5:30PM, via Zoom.

Throughout Jake Atienza's research on mining in Cebu, several residents asked for their identity to remain anonymous. Those who don’t, put themselves at risk in one of the deadliest countries for land defenders worldwide. With the expansion and encroachment of mining tenements, residents raise concerns about the destruction of land they consider their “generational inheritance”. For decades, Cebuanos have struggled to be heard and seek justice in the face of mining violence. When a group of locals filed a lawsuit against mining corporations and the Government following the deadly 2018 landslide in Naga City, it fell on deaf ears. This lawsuit is indicative of experiences of violence beyond material consequence, including intimidation and the loss of intergenerational connections to place. More than a series of separate mining-related incidents, Atienza's research aims to demonstrate how an epistemological framing helps to center the rule of law as a site of mining violence.

As state and community produced archives and narratives, legal documents and letters complicate the persistence of an extractive logic deriving from the archipelago’s colonial history under Spanish and American rule. Drawing on primary materials collected during ethnographic research spanning 2019 to 2023, Boaventura de Sousa Santos’ epistemicide helps problematize cognitive injustice as a central feature of a colonial struggle that renders epistemological complexity impossible. Pivoting from a geographic orientation of mining to an epistemological one centers the deadly business of mining as the “murder of knowledges”. In Atienza's analysis, these texts privilege an epistemology that renders mountains and coastlines, once places of life and intergenerational stories, into sites of extraction. In this context, knowledge production stemming from interactions with state and corporate actors is deemed epistemic violence since it rests on the exclusion and eradication of Bisayan epistemologies.

In his interdisciplinary practice, Jake Atienza (who was born in Cebu and lives and works in San Francisco, USA) seeks to make visible the intricacies of power and extractivism. With a Dutch mother and a Filipino father, Atienza witnessed the politics behind the destruction of Bantayan Island in Cebu - his paternal home. This grounds his work spanning community-based projects on Bantayan island to interviews with small-scale miners in the Kingdom of Tonga, artists and farmers in Australia, and his on-going work focusing on extractivism. His key areas of research are mining, epistemology, violence, law and society, and the intersection of power and knowledge production. He has contributed articles and radio features to SBS Radio, Art Monthly Australasia, Kantor Berita Radio, and NTU Centre for Contemporary Art’s ‘Climates. Habitats. Environments.’ and has exhibited at Firstdraft and 55 Sydenham Road in Australia. Atienza was a visiting scholar/artist at ‘Atenisi Institute (Nuku’alofa, Kingdom of Tonga, 2018;2019), Tropical Futures Institute (Cebu, Philippines, 2019), and the East-West Center (Honolulu, Hawai’i, 2020). In the spring of 2023, he completed his M.A. in Sociology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa where he was the recipient of the Center for Philippine Studies’ Corky Trinidad Endowment Scholarship at the UH-Mānoa in support of his research on an epistemology of extraction. Presently, he is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Geography at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

The Heo/Geo lecture is part of the ongoing 40th anniversary celebration of the UP Department of Geography (1983-2023) which simultaneously serves and provides a space where practical, discursive and embodied discussions and performativities from academic geographers, practitioners and civil society can come together and thrive. This talk is co-sponsored by the Human Geography (HuG) and Geographies of Disasters and Hazards research clusters of the UP Department of Geography. 

To attend the talk, please click this link to register, or paste the following link to your browser: https://tinyurl.com/4z6tfumn

18 February 2024

Heo/Geo Lecture Series 2024-02: Ria Ducusin on floodscape discourses and narratives in Cavite

From Biblical narratives in the Book of Genesis to recent intra-disciplinary studies, floods and flooding captivate attention because of the scale and magnitude of their occurrences and impacts on human lives. Of equal significance is in the dispelling of  myths surrounding their origins. 

Various flood studies in the Philippines had been undertaken. Historians like Greg Bankoff (2003) contended that it is in the interplay of environment and society that created conditions of possibility for the advent of riskscapes. Meanwhile an interdisciplinary team of scholars argued that to fully study the implications of geophysical hazards to societal life such as education, the recognition and consideration of small-scale disaster and floods should likewise be taken up (cf: Cadag, Petal, Luna, Gaillard, Pambid & Santos, 2017).

In a latest study on flooding in the Philippines, certain discourses used by state actors seek to depoliticize natural disasters by blaming them on climate change. 

Join us for our second Heo/Geo Lecture Series this year as we present Ria Jhoanna Ducusin's research findings on flooding based on a seven-month period of ethnographic fieldwork in Bacoor City, Cavite. The talk which is jointly sponsored by the UP Department of Geography and the Philippine Geographical Society is on Friday, 23 February 2024 at 5:30PM via Zoom. Her talk entitled Political Ecology of Flooding in Coastal Cities in the Philippines is focused on coastal environments that are at the greatest risk of the impacts of flooding.

By asserting that flood disasters are inevitable due to the country’s geographical location, the government reduces its obligations and conceals the socioeconomic processes that leave vulnerable populations at risk. This misplaced understanding of flooding in the Philippines is what this research examines. Over a seven-month period of ethnographic fieldwork in Bacoor City, Cavite, the study delves into the intricate interplay of ecological conditions and socio-political factors shaping flooding. Preliminary findings challenge the prevailing narrative, shedding light on the dual role of capitalist transformation in both exacerbating and mitigating flood risks. Furthermore, interviews reveal that flood control infrastructure is perceived as a solution to effectively manage and address persistent flooding. Finally, the research emphasizes the normalization of living with floods as an integral aspect of urban residents’ lives, shaped by the intersectionality of various social identities.

Ria Jhoanna Ducusin is a PhD Candidate at the Geography program at York University. She also serves as a Graduate Associate at the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Geography at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Her research interests lie at the nexus of political ecology and critical disaster studies. Before joining York University, she taught at Cavite State University, as well as a researcher at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). Ria holds a MSc in Environmental Science and BSc in Human Ecology from UPLB.

To join the lecture, please click this link to register. Or you can just click the following link to your browser: http://tinyurl.com/ytudhbmr

The Heo/Geo Lecture Series is a space that endeavors to bring together scholars, practitioners and civil society to present research and advocacy work within a larger geographical context and understanding. The Lecture Series is a continuation of the UP Department of Geography's 40th anniversary (1983-2023) as it ushers newer approaches, methodologies and discourses within the purview of a broadly-conceptualised discipline of geography. 

This lecture is made possible through the Environment and Development Geographies (EDGE) research cluster of the UP Department of Geography. The lecture touches on SDG #13 (Climate Action) and #15 (Life on Land) of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

19 January 2024

Heo/Geo Lecture Series 2024-01: Rye Tipay on illustrating landscapes

Can audience participation change the outcome of an in-situ illustration?

For graphic designer Rye Tipay, this question can take multi-layered dimensions. In his experience, the painting of common landmarks and non-touristic areas in “enplein air” (in the open air), initiates on-the-spot conversations between the artist, local residents and curious onlookers. This kind of immersive and sometimes participatory process of painting unconsciously invites people to observe changes in ambience, contrast or any movements adding details to the artwork. During this spontaneous interaction, stories and history are shared and swapped adding interesting insights, observations and placing importance to common places. These exchanges impact the final output that takes a newer dimension especially when major changes are done or converted into other use or purpose.

Join us for our first Heo/Geo Lecture Series for 2024 as Rye Tipay gives a presentation entitled Dito sa Amin: Watercolor illustration of common and public spaces used as landmarks and reference points. This is happening on Monday, 22 January 2024 at 5:30 in the afternoon via Zoom.

Rye Tipay is a freelance graphic designer based in Dingalan, Aurora. After moving to Aurora in 2016, he became part of Aurora Artists Residency Program and Space (AARPS) as one of the local organizers particularly for the Adow ne Domaget Festival and some other art based community programs, and also a founding member of Salikhain Kolektib at salikhainkolektib.com, an interdisciplinary collective based in the Philippines that integrates art, research, education, and community engagement & development into various collaborative artworks and initiatives. He also takes photos and do enplein air watercolor artworks as a way of documenting daily scenes and local landscapes. To view his works, visit https://ryetipay.wordpress.com/ 

The Heo/Geo Lecture Series is endeavored as a space to share and exchange ideas on a wide variety of geographical topics intersecting methodologies, discourses, technologies, pedagogies, and practices. Faculty, students, alumni and local and foreign geography-adjacent researchers delivered various presentations in previous academic years fulfilling one of the Department's mission: to popularize geography as an academic discipline through research and practice. 

This presentation is jointly sponsored by the Philippine Geographical Society and the UP Diliman Department of Geography through the Media and Literary Geographies (MELANGE) research cluster.

To participate in Rye Tipay's presentation, click this link or paste the following link to your URL: http://tinyurl.com/2hb8fvwy