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Human Geography

List of human geography research projects

For a description of what Human Geography entails and a list of Faculty performing research in this area, please visit the Human Geography Specialty Page.

Current Research

Food, Ethnicity and Place: Feeding Families and Nourishing Communities

“Food, Ethnicity and Place: Feeding Families and Nourishing Communities” seeks to generate a better understanding of how children and their families make food choices within the constraints and opportunities presented by place, culture and ethnicity. The three-year project, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, focuses on intra-urban differences in food environments and ethnic variations in families’ and children’s food practices in three communities of the City of San Diego: City Heights, Southeastern San Diego and Little Italy. The project investigates residents’ accessibility and relations to the local food environment and identifies the main factors that explain variations within and across the three study areas, including socio-economic characteristics of neighborhoods, their historical transformation into ethnic enclaves, and broader political and economic processes that direct private and public resources and shape the urban landscape. Particular attention is given to the enabling/constraining capacities of place in shaping social reproduction and children's agency in influencing family practices, resisting gendered divisions of labor, and creating new bridges between home and other environments.


Global Childhoods: Globalization, Development and Young People

Recent work on children’s geographies and the new sociology of childhood is about the practices of young people, their communities, and the places and institutions that shape (and are shaped by) their lives. It is about quirky local geographies that spiral children into despair and violence, it is about youth movements and communities of rage and mayhem, and it is about omnipresent global geographies with uneven outcomes that conspire to commodify and exploit the lives of young people. With this project we argue that places are important for young people because they play a large part in constructing and constraining dreams and practices, but local contexts may complicate our understandings of young people’s geographies and highlight relativism to the extent that there is nothing critical to say. Through our study of local places we should not be silent about larger concerns. This international project involves researchers from the US, UK, Canada, Denmark and Norway. It initiates a broad discussion about how we place children, but it does not seek to dwell on the abiding (and important) complexities of local comparisons. Rather, it seeks to elaborate larger concerns about the changing nature of childhood, young people’s experiences and the embodiment of their political identities as they are embedded in processes of globalization.

The project advances ideas generated in a 1998 National Science Foundation-sponsored (SES 97-32469) workshop in San Diego and a workshop that took place in Norway in 2004 (sponsored by the Norwegian Research Council). The earlier NSF workshop focused on children’s geographies in general. The NRC workshop highlighted children’s political identifies with a specific focus on young people as part of globalization. This project culminated in the following book: Aitken, Stuart C. Anne Trine Kjorholt and Ragnhild Lund, eds. (2008). Global Childhoods. Routledge.


The Awkward Spaces of Fathering

Social science research often defines a father’s relationship and involvement with his children as a form of co-parenting that is interdependent with, in opposition to, and at times less than mothering. It is a position that tends to avoid issues of power, dominance and positioning, and often soft-pedals the emotional bonds between fathers and their children. This project seeks to advance knowledge of the mythic ideals that help structure the gender and spatial relations of fathering, and to understand more fully how these get in the way of the day-to-day work of fathering. There are two sub-components to this project.

I. The Emotional Work of Fathering: A Study of the Spatial Construction of Fathering
An ongoing ten-year longitudinal study using ethnographic interviews and participant observation explores how much of the institution of fatherhood hinges on an “idea” that does not embrace the “fact” of fathering as a daily emotional practice that is negotiated, contested and resisted differently in different spaces. Of central importance is the assumption that these spaces are highlighted and questioned or put in jeopardy.

II. Recovering Fatherhood: A Study of the Social and Spatial Politics of Exclusion
This part of the study explores normative views of “being a father” amongst a sample of fathers whose place in a family is contested by past behaviors and practices. The specific focus of change for this project is exclusion from, or tension within, families due to a father’s past substance abuse and other dependencies. The project seeks to understand how fathers in recovery from addictive diseases create new and complex spaces of interaction with their families.


Public Health Reasoning and Epidemic Modelling

This site is an on-line source for the book: Interdisciplinary Public Health Reasoning and Epidemic Modelling: The Case of Black Death.

The statements found on this page/site are for informational purposes only. While every effort is made to ensure that this information is up to date and accurate, official information can be found in the university publications.

©Department of Geography, San Diego State University