Leonardo Valenzuela & Billy Haworth

Wednesday 1 June 2016
1.00 - 2.00pm

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Madsen Rm 449, Madsen Building, Eastern Ave, The University of Sydney


Explore current innovations in geographical research and cutting edge trends in socio- spatial theory throughout this seminar series.

Geographers and the Environment 

Moralscapes of the Anthropocene
Leonardo Valenzuela

2016 seems likely to be the year when the ICS will make a decision on whether or not there are justifiable grounds to establish that we are living on the Anthropocene, a geological era distinct from the Holocene. Naturally, the lead up to this decision has been followed with great attention by geoscientists. Perhaps more surprisingly, it has become a matter of great concern for social science and humanities practitioners. For some of these practitioners the Anthropocene is little more than a buzzword, while others have readily embraced the idea of a new epoch and begun its conceptual colonisation. Such colonisation faces the great challenge of how to make sense of human agency through the situated entanglements of contemporary global crises. This presentation describes this challenge through an exploration of Amelia Moore’s conceptual distinction between the idea of the Anthropocene and its spaces. The first part  introduces the current debate regarding the moral implications of naming the new geological epoch, examining alternative proposals and their justifications. The second part discusses the sacrifice zone as a space of the Anthropocene, providing some ethnographic insights through the case of Quintero Bay in Chile.

Leonardo Valenzuela’s previous research focused on the production and performance of key environmentally relevant regulations during Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990), including water privatisation, incentives for the development of forest plantations and the right to live in an environment free of pollution.

His PhD research explores the role of obduracy in life degradation. This research project follows the trajectories of 50 years of industrialisation in Las Ventanas, one of the most heavily polluted areas of Chile; focusing on the techno-political controversies that have shaped its multiple landscapes. His research interests include: Actor-Network Theory; Atmospheres and Moralities; Geographies of Copper; Ecology of Practices; Histories of Chilean Development.

Assessing the potential, application, & implications of volunteered geographic information in disaster risk reduction
Billy Haworth

Volunteered geographic information (VGI), or geographic information created by private citizens through technologies like social media and web mapping, has changed the ways people create and use geographic information, with implications for various applications of geospatial data, including disaster management. This research assesses the application and value of VGI in improving community engagement in disaster risk reduction. Preparing for disasters reduces the likelihood of negative impacts on life and property, but despite strategies to educate communities, preparation engagement remains low. This talk will focus on the three main components of my PhD research aiming to determine how VGI can be useful (or not) in fostering community engagement in bushfire preparation in Tasmania. First, community surveys were used to assess potential for VGI use; second, interviews with emergency management professionals were conducted to determine how community VGI practices impact traditional emergency management; and third, participatory mapping workshops were used to assess the value  for individuals of sharing local knowledge and mapping for bushfire preparation together with their community. This talk will focus on results of these studies, which indicate the effectiveness of VGI in increasing community connectedness, local knowledge exchange, and community resilience in bushfire preparation, but will also turn a critical eye to how VGI might undermine resilience-building in communities, and the broader implications of VGI for emergency management, geography and GIScience, and social practices more broadly.


Billy Haworth’s  key research interests involve using GIS and spatio-temporal analysis technologies to explore relationships between people and places. Previous work has examined graffiti policy and patterns of graffiti removal in urban environments. His current research is focussed on the role of volunteered geographic information (VGI) in natural disaster management. He currently holds a Bushfire & Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) scholarship and is examining VGI for bushfire preparation and community engagement. Billy holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Applied Science, specialising in spatial information science, from the University of Sydney.


Upcoming in the Series

Wednesday June 8th | 1 – 2.00pm
Alistair Sisson (Geosciences post-grad) | Night-Time Economy stigmatisation: a case study of Northbridge, Western Australia

Wednesday June 15 | 1 – 2.00pm