In 2002, a government-owned Senegalese ferry named the Joola capsized in a storm off the coast of The Gambia in a tragedy that killed 1,863 people and left 64 survivors, only one of them female. The Joola caused more human suffering than the Titanic yet no scholarly research to date has explored the political and environmental conditions in which this African crisis occurred. Barton's book project (Africa's Joola Shipwreck) investigates the root causes of the shipwreck and its consequences for Senegalese people, particularly those living in the rural south region of Casamance. She unravels the forces (migration, cartography, corruption) that led to this humanitarian disaster and defined its aftermath. Her presentation will show how the Sufi tenet of “beautiful optimism” shaped community resilience in the wake of the shipwreck, despite the repercussions the event had on Senegalese society and space.
Dr. Barton is a Professor of Geography and Sustainability at the University of Northern Colorado where she teaches courses on Climate Change, Resource Management, and Africa. She is fortunate to have been the recipient of multiple Fulbright awards and a National Endowment Senior Fellowship for her teaching and research in environmental and cultural geography. She is also this year's recipient of UNC's Winchester Distinguished Scholar Award and a past recipient of the National Council for Geographic Education Teaching Excellence Award. Her book, Africa's Joola Shipwreck: Causes and Consequences of a Humanitarian Disaster, will be released on January 15, 2021.