In this episode, Kafui Attoh explains how geography is a tool for reading and interpreting natural and urban landscapes, a lens for understanding what we see. A geographic inquiry can start by noticing the world around us and then getting curious about why it’s that way, or - if you’re a human geographer - how and why we organize things the way we do: How are people and things distributed in places and spaces and what processes lead to that? Kafui shares how living and learning experiences sparked his interest in becoming a human geographer and how that plays out where he lives. In Poughkeepsie, he functions both as a geographer who tries to take the whole picture in and as an engaged resident who cares about defending the public goods that are central to the potential dynamism of urban life, goods like being able to get around on public transport, having easy access to enjoying the waterfront and other natural spaces, or understanding how stories of our past connect to and inform current debates. 

Kafui Attoh lives in the City of Poughkeepsie where he has engaged in a number of initiatives, including times when the city bus system was slated to be taken over by the county, when a committee formed to elicit public comment on the development of the last riverfront parcel owned by the city, and when he learned about the status of the archive of Poughkeepsie Journal images. He is a co-convener (with Susan Grove and Muriel Horowitz) of a historic walking tour of Poughkeepsie done at a sub-leisurely pace called SlowPOK. When he is not circumambulating Poughkeepsie, he is an associate professor of urban studies at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies with a Ph.D. in geography. He has published numerous articles in both academic and public venues and two books: he’s the author of Rights in Transit: Public Transportation and the Right to the City in California’s East Bay (University of Georgia Press 2019), and a co-author of Disrupting DC: The Rise of Uber and the Fall of the City (Princeton University Press 2023).