EPISODE TWENTY SEVEN Unconventional Worldmaps, Unconventional Worldviews


Stay tuned for EPISODE TWENTY SEVEN.  “Unconventional Worldmaps, Unconventional Worldviews” will broadcast first from Radio Fabrik on January 28th at 7:06 PM Salzburg time (1:06 PM New York).  In this radio expedition we speak with Julia Mia Stirnemann about her World Map Generator, an online tool designed to help de-center the way we think about the conventional cartographic representations of the world.  After the initial broadcast look for the episode in the archives at http://www.geographicalimaginations.org/episodes/.


Tobacco Road is Really in Connecticut

The University of Connecticut Huskies basketball teams have won a combined 15 NCAA Division 1 National Championships in the last 22 years. That is 15 out of a possible 44 or just over one-third of the annual trophies. The Huskies collectively have never lost a NCAA Final game and have one of the best winning percentages in the Final Four. Sure, they didn’t win championships before 1995 but here is how the tandem matches up against other basketball school pairs that claim elite or “blue blood” status.

UCLA (11), Tennessee (8), Kentucky (8), North Carolina (6), Indiana (5), Duke (5)

One of the lectures I have given to students of cultural geography looks at cultural landscapes and college basketball seems to find its way in there. As a graduate of the University of Connecticut living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina I found myself having some fun with the place-name “Tobacco Road.”  It refers to some imaginary place not on the map—although the region is known for growing tobacco and producing cigarettes—where 4 universities are located very close to each other and whose heated rivalry has maybe been matched only by the famous “Big 5” in Philadelphia. Wake Forest, NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill & Duke are all top players on the national basketball scene, household names thanks to people like Dick Vitale and Jim Nantz. Given the success of these programs, Tobacco Road has taken on a meaning of excellence and for good reason…they are good.

The lecture is called, “Tobacco Road is Really in Connecticut”. Given the Connecticut River valley’s historical production of high quality tobacco leaf for cigar wrappers we can make this claim. (See Windsor, CT if you are interested.) As a cultural-historical geographer I recognize the place of the past in the production of present landscapes and realize that these southern “Tobacco Road” teams have (maybe) been better for more years.  But with championship #15 under our collective Husky belts I find it necessary to return to the stats and see how the Huskies match up against all of Tobacco Road.

Connecticut 15—Tobacco Road 13.

OK, the chants of “SAT Scores” will be heard from Cameron (Duke’s Arena), UNC will quote from the hagiography of Dean Smith and, well, NC State’s underdog win is forever memorialized in our minds (digitally, now) as one of the best finishes in all sports. Tough to beat. Maybe basketball is not all about the hardware—those not-so-fashionable wooden trophies the NCAA gifts the victors.  Maybe it is more about overcoming those personal and collective challenges not measured by the standard of the material prize.  Either way a championship is quite sweet.


Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.


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