Research Clusters

Research Clusters in Human Geography

Nationalism, Citizenship, Empire and the State

Faculty:

R. Basu, R. Das, L.Drummond, W.Jenkins, R. Keil, E Lunstrum, L.Peake, V.Preston, J. Radford, G. Wekerle, P.Wood

Description:

The struggle to define who we are, individually and collectively, produces some of the most explosively contested spaces. Scholars in this area study cultural politics in Canada and abroad, in Western and developing nations. Our research is not limited to strict, formal definitions of citizenship, but addresses past and present issues of representation and social justice related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion and the environment. Our research also includes work on the spatiality of the state and state power and the spatiality of state-society (or state-citizen) relations.

Related Centres and Programmes at York:

 

 

 

Development Studies

Faculty:

R. Das, L. Drummond, R. Keil, P. Kelly, J. Mensah, L. Peake, P.Vandergeest

Description:

The study of post-colonial, global south societies opens a wide range of possibilities for geographical research. At York, research has focused on urbanization, the political economy of industrialization and labour market change, the administration and impacts of overseas development projects, the political-ecological dimensions of conservation conflict and resource management, feminist approaches to development and political empowerment, agrarian transformations, the global agriculture and alternative agriculture. The Graduate Program has particular expertise in Southeast Asia (Drummond, Kelly, Roth, Vandergeest), South Asia (Das), Africa (Lunstrum and Mensah), and Latin America and the Caribbean (Peake and Wilkinson). Research has also examined development in Turkey and the Canadian periphery.

Related Centres and Programmes at York:

 

 

Feminist Geographies

Faculty:

A. Bain, R. Basu, L. Drummond, J. Hyndman, L. Peake, V. Preston, G. Wekerle, P. Wood

Description:

Although it is one of the newest perspectives in geography, feminist geography has led to fundamental changes in geographers research topics and methods. Faculty in this group study feminist and gender-related topics, both historical and contemporary. Through studies of development, immigration and nationalism, and work, the connections among gender, race, ethnicity, and class are explored in both material and rhetorical forms. Research concentrates on the ways that place and space shape gender inequality and identities and how inequality and gender identities transform places. Gender identities and women’s experiences in the city are also a strong interest.

Related Centres and Programmes at York:

 

 

Political Ecology, Landscape, and Socio-Nature

Faculty:

W. Jenkins, R. Keil, E. Lunstrum, J. Radford, P Vandergeest, G. Wekerle.

Description:
Research of the faculty in this area ranges from the reading of human landscapes, and their representations in literature, media, and political discourse, to an examination of the cultural, social and ecological processes associated with changing regimes of environmental governance. Faculty conduct research in North America, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Specializations include conservation conflict, production of environmental knowledge, agro-food certification, urban environmental politics, social movements, gendered environments and the transnational mobilities of policy, people and disease as both driver and outcome of environmental transformation.

 

 

Globalization: Economic Restructuring and Cultural Politics

Faculty:

P. Kelly, L. Lo, G. Norcliffe, V. Preston

Description:
Globalization, viewed as a socially and politically constructed project, has been one of the most pervasive economic processes of the past quarter century. t is, however, just one expression of the universal process of economic restructuring that is continually producing new geographies of production and consumption. Current work at York examines the discourse of globalization (including opposition and protest movements), its expression in NICs (especially in Southeast Asia), and new forms of production (including lean production and mass customization) in Canada.

Focus on Research:

Lucia Lo – Geographies of production and consumption

 

 

Immigrant Communities, Migration and Transnationalism

Faculty:
R. Basu, R Keil, P. Kelly, W.Jenkins, L. Lo, E. Lunstrum, J. Mensah, V. Preston, P. Wood

Description:
Toronto is one of the world's most multicultural cities. More than forty percent of Toronto's population was born outside of Canada. One-in-ten residents are recent immigrants. Therefore, it is not surprising that many York geography faculty and graduate students are engaged in studies of immigrant communities and transnationalism of both a contemporary and historical nature. Recent research has focused on the construction of ethnic identities, the settlement patterns and housing trajectories of individual immigrant groups, the development of ethnic economies, immigrant labour market integration and the transnational linkages between Toronto and other parts of the world.

Focus on Research:
Lucia Lo - Chinese settlement experience; Culture, identity and consumption; Ethnic economy and immigrant entrepreneurship; Settlement services

Related Centres and Programmes at York:

CERIS (The Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement - Toronto)
CRS (The Centre for Refugee Studies)
CERLAC (Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean)
YCAR (York Centre for Asian Research)

 

 

Labour Geography and Labour Market Regulation

Faculty:

A Bain, P. Kelly, G. Norcliffe, L. Peake, V. Preston, S Tufts

Description:

Geographical understandings of work relate both to the place of work (particularly in the formation and regulation of labour markets), and the spatial relations of work which include the connection between home and work, migration, and the creation and loss of jobs in particular settings. The relation between home and work and the related spatial mismatch hypothesis is an issue of particular importance, especially for women, shiftworkers, and single parents. The emergence of new forms of work, both in Canada and in developing countries has produced supply chains and networks of production, especially in technology-intensive industries. In Canada, new understandings of the role of unions and labour in local development are emerging in which labour may play a proactive role in tourism development and community projects. Finally, transnational linkages are creating new understanding of how labour markets are regulated and experienced.

Related Centres and Programmes at York:

 

 

Urban Spaces and Social Issues

Faculty:

A Bain, R. Basu, J. Caulfield, L. Drummond, R. Keil, J. Mensah, L. Lo, G. Norcliffe, L. Peake, V. Preston, J. Radford, G. Wekerle, D Young

Description:

With rapid social, political and economic change in cities world-wide, questions of governance and of the public good are at the centre of much geographical research about cities. At York, faculty and students have investigated urban politics and their impact on built form; the representation of immigrants, women and other minorities in urban politics and planning; housing and land use issues; and the provision of social and medical services. Planning processes are placed within the contexts of the political economy of city-building, the transition to postindustrial urbanism and concurrent corporatization of urban space, and the collision of modernism and antimodernism in the making of urban forms.

Focus on Research:

Lucia Lo – Retailing and consumption spaces; Service planning

Related Centres and Programmes at York:

 

 

Research Clusters in Physical Geography

Fluvial Geomorphology and Hydrology

Faculty:

André Robert, Qiuming Cheng, Kathy Young

Description:

Research is conducted in the department on contemporary fluvial processes in stream channels and on hydrological processes. Studies on fluvial processes have emphasized flow and sedimentary processes in alluvial channels. In particular, a significant component of this research has dealt with flow hydraulics, sedimentary processes and related flow turbulence phenomena in both sand-bed and coarse-grained channels in southern Ontario (and in laboratory settings).

 

 

Biogeography and Biogeochemistry

Faculty:

Taly Drezner, Lewis Molot, Tarmo Remmel

Description:

Studies in biogeography examine processes that operate at the levels of plant populations, vegetation communities and ecosystems. Climate is a central factor in understanding the distribution of plants, including their population fluctuations and regeneration cycles. Also, many plants, particularly those that live in harsh environments, form associations with other species in both parasitic and mutually beneficial relationships. Current research includes plant-plant and plant-climate interactions. North America's deserts are the primary focus of this research. A second area of research includes human and natural disturbance, and the recolonization of disturbed areas by plants, including invasive species. Dispersal and life history traits are key to understanding succession and resulting plant dynamics. These processes are considered primarily in riparian areas, but also in other environments as well. A third area of research seeks to better understand extensive natural and anthropogenic disturbances that are common in northern boreal forests, and greatly affect this ecosystem's ecology, productivity, and succession patterns. Similarities and differences among disturbance types, their causal factors, and recovery are studied using spatial statistical methods coupled with field and satellite data to improve management strategies and to assess how anthropogenic disturbances might better emulate natural disturbances.

Biogeochemistry involves the study of biological controls on element transport and transformation processes that are often cyclical. The study of biogeochemistry that has been an important focus in physical geography at York University in the past 20 years, is now growing rapidly in a range of disciplines including geography, in part because of concerns over human accelerated environmental changes. We examine biogeochemical processes at local to landscape scales in natural and disturbed environments. This focus includes research on stream riparian zones and headwater wetlands as critical landscape interfaces for the transformation of nitrogen and other nutrients. Studies on watershed-lake relationships are concerned with how climate change, ultraviolet radiation and acid rain affect carbon fluxes.

 

Geoinformatics

Faculty:

Ranu Basu, Qiuming Cheng, Baoxin Hu, Tarmo Remmel, Kathy Young

Description:

The advent and development of GeoIT has enabled geographers to better understand and analyze spatial and temporal patterns. At York we focus on the development and application of GeoIT (i.e., GIS, remote sensing and GPS) for retrieval of bio-/geo-physical properties and for landscape classification, resource mapping and environmental monitoring. Extensive work in the measurement, characterization, and comparison of spatial pattern and spatial accuracy assessment are of particular interest due to their potential application in interdisciplinary studies. Working predominantly with classified satellite imagery, numerous spatial statistical techniques have been developed to improve the robust assessment of change among hierarchical representations of ecological and forested land cover classifications. Another focus of this cluster is spatial analysis of earth and environmental systems. The third research area seeks to better understand snow cover and snowmelt energetics in the High Arctic using GIS and remote sensing.

Related Centres and Laboratories at York:

  • Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science (CRESS)
  • GeoInformatics Research Lab
  • Tri-Faculty Geomatics Research Lab

 

Northern Environments

Faculty:

Rick Bello, Kathy Young, Qiuming Cheng, Lewis Molot

Description:

The northern environments cluster examines several research issues: (i) Sensitivity of northern environments to climate variability and global change with particular emphasis on snowcover, snowmelt energetics and wetland hydrology; (ii) Improved understanding of linkages and feedbacks between climate, hydrology and terrestrial ecosystems; (iii) GIS and Remote Sensing for resource mapping and environmental assessment in northern environments; and (iv) Changes in the growth and establishment of northern trees species and the position of treeline in response to climate change.

 

Streams, Wetlands and Watersheds

Faculty:

André Robert, Qiuming Cheng, Kathy Young

Description:

Research is conducted in the department on fluvial processes in stream channels, biogeochemical processes associated with subsurface water in channels, and on hydrological processes in wetland northern environments. Studies on fluvial processes have emphasized flow and sedimentary processes in alluvial channels. In particular, a significant component of this research has dealt with flow hydraulics, sediment transport processes and related flow turbulence phenomena in both sand-bed and coarse-grained channels in southern Ontario (and in laboratory settings). Recent work and ongoing projects also include channel adjustments to changes in flow regime and sediment delivery in urbanized environments. Another focus of this cluster is the role of the hyporheic zone (the zone of stream water and subsurface water mixing in stream bed) in regulating stream nutrient dynamics in both forested and agricultural landscape. The third research area involves the use of GIS for analysis of surface stream patterns. The fourth research area will investigate the hydrology of large High Arctic wetland systems situated in polar desert and polar-oasis settings.