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Historical Development of Cultural Geography. Stephen McFarland. Geography + Cultural Studies.

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Geography cultural studies
Geography + Cultural Studies

“The insertion of spatial concepts into social theory has not yet been successfully accomplished…The junction between geography and social theory is one of the crucial flash points for the crystallization of new conceptions of the world and new possibilities of active intervention.”

–David Harvey


Harvey history of geography
Harvey- History of Geography

  • The history of geography is tied up with the history of our society.

  • Changing societies make changing demands for geographic knowledge.

  • Defining Geography: “Geography records, analyzes and stores information about the spatial distribution and organization of those conditions (both naturally occurring and humanly created) that provide the material basis for the reproduction of social life. It promotes conscious awareness of how such conditions are subjectto continuous transformation through human action.”

  • Geographers as generalists, “synthesizers of knowledge in its spatial aspect”


Harvey bourgeois geography
Harvey- Bourgeois Geography

  • Mapping, surveying

  • Systematic description of Earth’s surface

  • Spatial variations in ways of life (culture)

  • Geopolitics- spheres of influence

  • Quantitative study of population, infrastructure for rational planning

  • Ideology


Harvey people s geography
Harvey- People’s Geography

  • Against Positivism (uncovering hidden assumptions and biases)

  • Calling out racism, sexism, prejudice

  • Challenging role of geography in imperialism, social control, exploitation

  • Marxism, anarchism, humanism, advocacy, “geographic expeditions”


Harvey on neutrality
Harvey on neutrality

“Geographers cannot remain neutral. But they can strive towards scientific rigor, integrity, and honesty. The difference between the two commitments must be understood. There are many windows from which to view the same world, but scientific integrity demands that we faithfully record and analyze what we see from any one of them. The view from China looking outwards or from the lower classes looking up is very different from that from the Pentagon or Wall Street. But each view can be represented in a common frame of discourse, subject to evaluation as to internal integrity and credibility.”


Mitchell cultural geography
Mitchell- Cultural Geography

“A Critical Introduction”

  • “the goal is to explore the struggles that make "culture," to show how they get worked out in particular spaces and places - in particular landscapes - and to show how struggles over "culture" are a key determinant, day in and day out, in the ways that we live our lives”

  • “Materialist and Marxist”


Mitchell s standpoint
Mitchell’s Standpoint

  • “I have an agenda”

  • “my primary goal has been to show how "culture" is never any thing, but is rather a struggled-over set of social relations, relations shot through with structures of power, structures of dominance and subordination. Such a position (like any intellectual position) comes with its own set of blinkers.”


Mitchell s aim
Mitchell’s Aim

  • [My] focus is on cultural struggle, on the imposition of social control through "cultural means,“ and on the construction of and resistance to the cultural spaces that define social life in different settings.


Mitchell ch 1 culture wars
Mitchell Ch.1: Culture Wars

  • Battles over cultural identity reflect and shape geographies

  • “Culture is socially constructed through all manner of contests and cooperations over the materials that make up our lives– places, jobs, pictures, foods, art, histories, ethnicities, sexualities” (p. 12)


Mitchell defining culture
Mitchell- Defining Culture

  • Culture as total “way of life”

  • Culture as “structure of feeling”

  • Culture as “what’s left when you subtract economic, political, and social” from human activity

  • Culture as the symbolic


Mitchell 6 ways of thinking about culture
Mitchell- 6 Ways of thinking about Culture

  • Culture is the opposite of nature

  • Culture is a way of life

  • Culture is the processes by which a way of life develops

  • Culture as set of markers defining group membership

  • Culture is the way patterns, processes and markers are represented

  • Culture as a hierarchical ordering of ways of life


Mitchell history of cultural geography
Mitchell- History of Cultural Geography

  • Environmental determinism- The natural features of the earth’s surface shape human culture

  • Carl Sauer- agency of “man” on earth: “Culture is the agent, the natural area is the medium, the cultural landscape the result”

  • Wilbur Zelinsky- Superorganicism: culture as unified, semi-independent force over and above people

  • 1970s critiques: where is power? Where is difference? What about cities? Modern life?


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