Published: March 17, 2023
Colloquium poster with title date time location

Xiaoling Chen
PhD Candidate
"Creating, Competing for, and Transforming Digital Spaces: Free Expression, Alternative Truths, and Civic Engagement Regarding Covid-19 Response in 2022"

Gabby Subia-Smith
PhD Candidate
"How the Western Slope Won: The Production of Colorado's 3rd Congressional District"

Huck Rees
MA Student of Geography
"Beaver dams as sites of carbon accretion and sediment storage and implications for river restoration"

In Person:
GUGG 205
Mar 17, 2023, 3:35 PM - 5:00 PM

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Xiaoling Chen Abstract 1

Creating, Competing for, and Transforming Digital Spaces: Free Expression, Alternative Truths, and Civic Engagement Regarding Covid-19 Response in 2022

China’s zero-Covid policy has lasted for almost three years until December 2022. While most countries have adopted strategies to live with the virus, the central government of China insisted on a “Zero Covid” policy. The policy entailed a large apparatus of containment regimes, including but not limited to pervasive daily surveillance, travel restrictions, instantaneous lockdowns, and expansive mass testing. This apparatus has resulted in myriad disturbance on Chinese people every-day life and livelihood, immeasurable economic and social loss, physiological and mental health issues, and many other profound impacts in every aspect of the Chinese society. What are Chinese people’s responses to such a prolonged, restrictive containment? This paper highlights efforts and tactics Chinese people have deployed to create, compete for, and transform social media spaces for civic engagement. In doing so, the author makes visible both the advantages and constraints of the Chinese social media platforms in terms of civic engagement, as well as the efforts Chinese citizens have made to carve out spaces for diverse voices and explore approaches towards Covid-19 variants and their containment. In China, Governmental narratives have dominated public spaces while squeezing spaces for alternative voices, and institutional violence hampers civic engagement. By recognizing the efforts Chinese citizens make and the constraints they face, this paper attempts to shed light on state-citizen relationships in post-socialist China.

Xiaoling Chen Abstract 2

This is a lightening talk for the Alumni and Friends Celebration next week.

The Chinese government is facing three acute, intertwined challenges: an underdeveloped public healthcare network, Covid-19 outbreaks, and an aging society. The central government has addressed them by implementing public hospital reform (i.e. lowering drug price and wage restructuring) and a zero-Covid policy (i.e. lockdowns, mass testing, surveillance technologies, and self-developed Covid vaccines). This dissertation is based on ethnographic research in spaces of health governance coupled with social media observation. This study views sites of healthcare as spaces of government where hierarchical power relationships and geographical, sociocultural factors such as guanxi interact to mediate the policies’ implementation, effects, and consequences. I argue that China’s biopolitical management has shifted away from population control to health governance where a high degree of control remains. Covid outbreaks allow the government to expand the sites for health governance from traditional medical establishments like public hospitals to spaces like gated communities, social media, and private spaces. Such an expansion threatens the integrity of public healthcare, administrative and legal structures, and Chinese people’s private spaces and human rights.

Huck Rees Abstract

Beaver dams as sites of carbon accretion and sediment storage and implications for river restoration

In recent years, land managers, restoration practitioners, and government agencies increasingly have been employing beaver-based restoration techniques in rivers and streams, including reintroduction of beaver populations and construction of beaver dam analogues (BDAs). Beaver-based restoration has the potential beneficial effects of increasing geomorphic heterogeneity, increasing riparian vegetation biomass, storing water on the landscape, creating habitat for biota, and storing fine sediment and associated pollutants, nutrients, and organic carbon (OC). However, the rates sediment and OC accrual within beaver ponds are not adequately quantified. We conducted sediment surveys and radiometric dating of sediment cores within beaver ponds in the southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado at Manitou Experimental Forest and Coal Creek near Crested Butte. Sediment samples and cores were analyzed for OC content (%) and converted to total OC stock per area. Using a time-series of historical aerial imagery coupled with 7Be:210Pb radionuclide dating, we calculated sedimentation and carbon accretion rates. One of our study locations, Trout Creek, is an incised stream impacts by flow regulation and cattle grazing. We compare rates of sediment accumulation in beaver ponds to the amount of sedimentation that would be required to reconnect the channel to the abandoned floodplain in this system. Our study aims to provide insight into the rates at which beaver-based restoration can address human-caused stream incision. Understanding these processes on a variety of timescales, including both short-term (1-10 year) and multidecade (10-100 year), will aid river management decisions.

Gabby Subia-Smith Abstract

How the Western Slope Won: The Production of Colorado's 3rd Congressional District

U.S. congressional [JB1] district lines are a peculiar example of borders that, while rarely experienced in the day-to-day, have lasting impacts on political, economic, and social life across a district, state, and the country as a whole. The jurisdictional power of district lines is virtually unknown by many residents of a district until they cast their ballots. District lines only indirectly interfere in how people live their lives, as a result of law and policy put forth by elected officials. Furthermore, the drawing of district lines is often confusing and shrouded in mystery. In recent years, Colorado, along with many other states, has taken great steps to make redistricting more transparent and inclusive, adopting an independent redistricting commission and encouraging public participation in the process. In the 2021 redistricting cycle, Coloradans submitted nearly 2500 online comments, generated 140 of their own district maps, and participated in 250 hours of public hearings. Across the state, the most feedback came from residents of Colorado’s Third Congressional District, the state’s largest and most sparsely populated congressional district by area. This paper seeks to ground the production of the district, using discourse analysis of Coloradans’ feedback to better understand how and why district lines were drawn the way they were. While composed of a mostly rural population, District 3 is also home to most of Colorado’s tribal lands and a significant portion of the state’s Hispano population in the Southwest corner of the state. The drawing of District 3’s lines to include both Indigenous and Hispanic Coloradans among the much whiter and wealthier communities of Northwest Colorado and other white but socio-economically challenged communities stretching out into the Eastern Plains stands to disenfranchise already minoritized communities living across the district. The deceptive flattening of space is a fundamental flaw of not only geographically drawn districts, but also cartography and borders more broadly. Looking at the evolution of congressional districts can help us to better understand both the possibilities for equitable political representation and the limits of borders for fixing politics in place.

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