Historical Geographer, Program Director, Guide
Genius Loci is directed by Elizabeth (“Liz”) Vasile, an historical geographer/ethnographer with a specialty in urban history and cultural landscape studies, the urban experience of immigrant, outlier, and contrarian groups and movements, and a passion for understanding the interrelated makings of place and culture. ¬† Liz uses the ¬†field as the ground from which to learn, teach, and interpret ¬†the world to herself and to others. ¬† She¬†came to cultural tourism following a career in teaching, research, and consulting, which included the design and implementation of ¬†cultural field studies, in the U.S. and internationally, and university level teaching.
Raised abroad ¬†in a multicultural and multilingual family, at an early age Liz became savvy to cultural nuance and sensitive to the power and meaning of ¬†different landscapes.¬† With support from a Fulbright fellowship, she conducted field research in Tunisia and France, and earned a Ph.D. in geography from the University of California at Berkeley. ¬†Liz has also lived for years at a time in Spain, Chile, Thailand, and Mexico. ¬†She has taught regional studies (Latin America, Middle East & North Africa), migration studies, and urban field geography at UC Berkeley, and cartography and cultural landscape studies at the Pennsylvania State University. ¬†Her academic research examined the interplay of urbanization, migration, and social movements.
Liz is fluent in English and Spanish, and guides tours in both languages.¬† She is also near fluent in French, ¬†and gets by ¬†in ¬†Arabic and Greek. ¬†A¬†graduate of the ¬†International Tour Management Institute (ITMI), Liz is licensed as a tour guide and operator by the City and County of San Francisco, where she designs and guides a variety of specialty and general tours.
Liz is a member of ¬†the California Historical Society, ¬†the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Association of American Geographers, the National Council on Public History, and the Institute for Historical Study. ¬†She has also served as board vice-president of ¬†San Francisco Tour Guide Guild. ¬†For the ¬†last 25 years, in tandem with long stints living in New York city and abroad, she has made her home in the San Francisco bay area.
Rob is our resident ¬†expert for all things technical and mechanical, particularly where sound is concerned. ¬†He served 20 years in the US Air Force, ¬†as an aircraft mechanic and leadership instructor. ¬†He’s also been a dedicated musician for over 40 years, owned a jazz club, and ¬†is a skilled audio engineer. ¬†Rob cuts and mixes the audio clips that make our walking tours extra special, and manages the closed circuit sound equipment. ¬†He also keeps everyone in line and on the sidewalks, though he has strict instructions not to make us march in formation! ¬†Rob has traveled extensively in the US and Europe, and lived for over 10 years ¬†in Spain and England. ¬†He is fluent in Spanish.