37th CLAG Honors 2023
Experts of Latin American Geography awarded honors by the Conference of Latin American Geography (CLAG)
The Conference of Latin American Geography (CLAG) awarded seven honors on January 4, 2023 at the 37th CLAG Conference in Tucson, AZ. The seven awardees research and teach across six different institutions from Arizona to North Carolina and Dalhousie, Canada and have expertise in Latin American regions as disparate as the Amazon rainforest and the island of Cuba. What unites these eminent geographers is their dedication to furthering a deeper understanding of this fascinating and dynamic region. The Conference of Latin American Geography celebrated these geographers at a January conference hosted at the University of Arizona. CLAG, founded in 1970, has over 200 members from around the globe who foster geographic education and research on and in Latin America.
A researcher and two undergraduate students from Peru, Brazil, and Virginia, USA also won poster awards at the CLAG conference.
Dr. Gabriela Valdivia receives the Carl O. Sauer Distinguished Scholarship Award
The Carl O. Sauer Distinguished Scholarship Award is given in recognition for a corpus of important published work or other significant contribution towards Latin American geography. Recipients are scholars who are leading authorities in specific research topics and geographic areas of Latin America. CLAG’s 2023 recipient of the Sauer Award is Dr. Gabriela Valdivia. Gabriela is a Professor in the Department of Geography at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also currently serves as an Assistant Dean for the Honors College. Gabriela’s corpus of work examines the political ecology of natural resource governance, primarily in Ecuador and Bolivia. It examines the socio-environmental dynamics of agrarian transitions, conservation, and oil extraction, to understand how states, corporations, and civil society act to appropriate and transform resources to meet their interests. In one project, Crude Entanglements, Gabriela’s work uses feminist ethnography and digital storytelling to honor the experiences and struggles of people living with oil production in Esmeralda, Ecuador. Her work is innovative, critical, and justice-seeking.
Dr. Robert Huish receives the Public Engagement Award from CLAG Vice-chair Sarah Blue.
The Public Engagement Award is given to an individual in recognition of contributions to enhancing and disseminating knowledge of the geography of Latin America to civil society, the private sector, or government. Dr. Robert Huish is the recipient of the 2023 CLAG Public Engagement Award. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Development Studies at Dalhousie University in Canada. Bob is a public scholar who regularly discusses his (and other scholars’) work through media appearances, publications in journalistic outlets and his own podcast – The Global Development Primer, which has achieved a wide global audience of 18,000 listeners in 146 countries, including 15 countries in Latin America. Bob is a regular commentator on Canadian television and radio news outlets on issues of global public health, migration, climate change, and debt restructuring. He has recently been invited to work with the UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) and become a frequent contributor to The Conversation, a nonprofit, independent news organization “dedicated to unlocking the knowledge of experts for the public good,” where he translates his academic research and teaching for a broader public audience. This award is given in acknowledgment of Dr. Huish’s efforts in promoting an understanding of Cuba and Latin America for a truly global audience.
Dr. Brad Jokisch receives the CLAG Teaching Award from CLAG Chair David Salisbury.
Dr. Brad Jokisch is the recipient of the second ever CLAG Teaching Award (2023) which recognizes outstanding teaching that inspires and educates students about the geography of Latin America. Dr. Jokisch is an Associate Professor of Geography, and former Director of Latin American Studies, at Ohio University. He teaches Geography of Latin America with the spirit of a Latin Americanist Geographer with detailed attention to bio-physical systems, human modification of the landscape, contemporary environment and development issues, and themes of population, migration, globalization, and economy in the context of the region. Students at Ohio U. with an interest in the region are encouraged to take this course and apparently never disappointed. An award winning teacher at Ohio University, Dr. Jokisch also incorporates his expertise and research on Latin America into his other courses including Introduction to Human Geography, a large, introductory-level lecture course; Agricultural Ecoysystems and Population Geography, both of which serve upper-level undergraduate and graduate students; and seminars on Research and Writing in Geography and Migration and Development for graduate students. In addition to educating and inspiring students in the classroom, Dr. Jokisch has also advised 25 Master’s theses during his time at Ohio University, with 16 of these focusing on research in Latin America. Students with an interest in Latin America at Ohio University choose to work with Dr. Jokisch, not only because of his expertise in the region, but also because he is a caring and supportive advisor with extensive fieldwork experience in Latin America. His students know that they can count on him to help them produce meaningful geographic research in this context. Finally, Brad also won a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Grant earlier in his career to develop and direct a study away program for OU students to Cuenca, Ecuador on the topic of “Multicultural Ecuador.”
Dr. Case Watkins receives the Ascendente Award from CLAG Chair David Salisbury.
Dr. Case Watkins is the recipient of the second ever CLAG Ascendente Award (2023) which is given in recognition of an early career scholar/educator (<8 years since PhD date) demonstrating outstanding early accomplishment in the scholarship, teaching, and engagement of/with the geography of Latin America. Dr. Watkins is a newly promoted Associate Professor of Justice Studies at James Madison University. The writers of his nomination demonstrated that Dr. Watkins, a cultural and human-environment geographer, serves as an excellent awardee of the Ascendente Award because of his outstanding early accomplishments in scholarship, teaching, and engagement in Latin American Geography since his PhD was conferred in 2015. His book, Palm Oil Diaspora: Afro-Brazilian Landscapes and Economies on Bahia’s Dendê Coast was awarded the Roberto Reis Book Award by the Brazilian Studies Association and received an Honorable Mention for the Meridian Book Award by the American Association of Geographers (AAG). Building on this work, Dr. Watkins is now becoming a leading voice in studies of the Black Atlantic as they pertain to Latin America and political ecology. Dr. Watkins is also an engaging and passionate professor who teaches environmental justice, mapping, migration, and global justice, and is known to demand the best from his students even as he provides them the tools to succeed.
Dr. Armando Portela receives the CLAG Enlaces Award from CLAG Vice-chair Sarah Blue.
Dr. Armando Portela is the recipient of the 2023 CLAG Enlaces Award. The Enlaces Award is given in recognition of contributions to improving relationships between geographers and geography departments throughout Latin America. Recipients have demonstrated success and commitment towards this goal. Dr. Portela is an independent geographer who for several decades has produced and edited the journals Cuba Geográfica and Cuadernos de Geomorfología de Cuba. These publications bring geographic research to both specialists and the general public to subscribers in the US, Cuba, the former USSR, and Latin America. For decades, faculty and students at universities throughout Cuba and subscribers in the broader region receive weekly updates through the arrival of these publications via email. Dr. Portela is also a regular contributor to the periodicals CubaStandard and Cubanews and is an economic news analyst for the Miami Herald and its Spanish-language version El Herald. His mission is to help Cuban geographers keep up with geographic developments (especially in GIS and automated cartography) through his dissemination of geographic knowledge. CLAG is pleased to recognize Dr. Portelas’s dedication and commitment to improving relations and spreading geography knowledge in Cuba and beyond.
Dr. Johnny Finn receives the Outstanding Service to CLAG award.
The Outstanding Service to CLAG award is given in recognition of significant contributions to the improved functioning, broadened outreach, or enhanced impact of CLAG. CLAG’s 2023 recipient of the Service Award is Dr. Johnny Finn, for his service as Editor-in-Chief for CLAG’s Journal of Latin American Geography. Johnny is an Associate Professor of Geography and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology at Christopher Newport University. For the last 4 years, he has led JLAG ever forward in its mission to support CLAG and the geographical scholarship of Latin America. As stated in his nomination letter, “Johnny has led a dynamic and progressive transformation of the Journal that has included: global outreach and recruitment, new translation initiatives, an expansion of the editorial board, a doubling of downloads and revenues, a greater diversity of contributors, a rise in rankings, the inclusion of JLAG in new indexing services, a diversification of content, a further streamlining of work flows, and the use of JLAG as a tool for the decolonization of knowledge.”
Dr. Diana Liverman receives the Preston E. James Eminent Latin Americanist Career Award from CLAG Executive Director Kristen Conway-Gomez.
Dr. Diana Liverman is the recipient of the Preston E. James Eminent Latin Americanist Career Award 2022. The Preston E. James Eminent Latin Americanist Career Award is given in recognition of a life-time achievement towards the understanding of the geography of Latin America. Diana’s research has focused on the human dimensions of global environmental change, with her main research interests on climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and climate policy, governance, and mitigation, drawing attention to the social causes and consequences of climate change, and focusing on Latin America. She pioneered research on the impacts of global warming in Mexico. She has supervised and co-supervised 76 Masters and PhD students, 45 writing on Latin America, and mentored others through the promotion and tenure process. Her recent work has focused on climate justice. Diana directed the Latin American Studies program at the University of Arizona (1996-2002), organizing a series of binational environmental Encuentros along the US-Mexico border and securing Title VI Latin America funding for the program. She served as director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford from 2003. In 2009 she returned to the University of Arizona as co-director of a newly-created Institute of the Environment. In 2020, Diana was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2022 was made a fellow of the British Academy. She has led and served several international research networks including the InterAmerican Institute (IAI), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Future Earth. Last but not least, Diana chaired and co-chaired CLAG conferences in Tucson in 2003 and 2023. For her accomplishments in research, outreach and mentoring relating to Latin America Diana Liverman is a most deserving recipient of the Preston E. James Eminent Latin Americanist Career Award.