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The Nature of Cultural Geography
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The Nature of Cultural Geography

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  1. The Nature of Cultural Geography Chapter 1 The Human Matrix

  2. Discussion • Pair up into dyads • Discuss these two questions for 10 minutes, five minutes each • What does culture mean to you? • Would you identify yourself as belonging to a cultural group? Why or why not?

  3. Introduction • Humans are by nature geographers • Possess awareness of and curiosity about the distinctive character of places • Can think territorially or spatially • Each place on Earth is unique • Places possess an emotional quality and significance that contribute to our identity as unique human beings • Geographers, over the centuries, generated a number of concepts and ideas that literally changed the world

  4. Seven Cultural Geographical Idea That Changed the World • Maps • Human adaptation to habitat • Human transformation of the earth • Sense of place • Spatial organization and interdependence • Central place theory • Megalopolis

  5. Geography as an academic discipline • Natural human geographical curiosity and need for identity • First arose among the ancient Greeks, Romans, Mesopotamians, and Phoenicians • Arab empire expanded geography during Europe’s Dark Ages

  6. Geography as an academic discipline • Center of learning shifted to Europe during the Renaissance period • Modern scientific study of geography arose in Germany • Analytical geography began in the 1800s asking what, where, and why • Alexander von Humboldt and Carl Ritter

  7. What is cultural geography? • The meaning of culture • For this course defined as learned collective human behavior, as opposed to instinctive, or inborn behavior • Learned traits • Cultural geography: the study of spatial variations among cultural groups and the spatial functioning of society.

  8. Cultural geography • Focuses on cultural phenomena that may vary or remain constant from place to place • Explains how humans function spatially

  9. What is cultural geography? • Physical geography brings spatial and ecological perspectives • Bridges the social and earth sciences • Seeks a integrative view of humankind in its physical environment • Appears less focused than most other disciplines making it difficult to define

  10. No easy explanations for cultural phenomena • Many complex causal forces • Wheat cultivations (next slide) • Cultural geography seeks explanations of diverse casual factors

  11. Themes in cultural geography • Culture region: a geographical unit based on human traits • Maps are an essential tool for describing and revealing regions • Major types of culture regions • Formal • Functional • Vernacular

  12. Formal culture region

  13. Kerala, India • A formal culture region can be defined in this picture by ethnicity, dress and social custom. • While people do not generally reveal their bodies in public, at the end of the day they dress up to go to the beach and watch the sunset.

  14. Kerala, India • Boys and girls do not mingle but observe each other from a distance. • Unchaperoned dating is rare and marriages are typically arranged. • These are learned, collective human behaviors.

  15. Formal culture region • An area inhabited by people who have one or more cultural traits in common. • More commonly multiple related traits • No two cultural traits have the same distribution.

  16. Complex multiculture regions

  17. Territorial extents of a culture region depend on what defining traits are used.

  18. Formal culture regions • Many different formal regions can be created • Depends on traits • Geographer’s intuition

  19. Boundaries • Formal culture regions must have boundaries • rarely sharp because cultures overlap and mix • Culture regions reveal a core where all defining traits are present • Farther from core regional characteristics weaken and disappear • Formal regions display core/periphery pattern • Human world is chaotic

  20. Functional culture region

  21. Minneapolis, Minnesota • This mobile post-office is the node of a functional region. • People come to the node at specific times during the week to deposit their mail. • This vehicle is one of several linked to a particular post office which is part of of a larger network of post offices. • Each post office is a node in its own mail delivery region.

  22. Functional culture region • The scene is in the city’s CBD where individual buildings are nodes of activities linked to other buildings and places. • Note the skywalk which facilitates interaction between structures.

  23. Functional culture regions • An area organized to function politically, socially, or economically • Examples: city, independent state, church diocese, a trade area • Have nodes or central points from which functions are coordinated and directed. • Many functional regions have clearly defined borders

  24. Farm as a formal culture region • all land owned and leased, farmstead is node, borders marked by fences, hedges

  25. Functional culture region • States in the United States and Canadian provinces • Not all functional areas have clearly defined borders: newspapers, sales area • Fans of UT vs TAMU • Generally functional culture regions do not coincide spatially with formal culture regions

  26. Vernacular culture regions • A region perceived to exist by its inhabitants, has widespread acceptance and uses a special regional name.

  27. Vernacular culture region • Generally lack sharp borders • Can be based on many different things • physical environment • economic, political, historical aspects • often created by publicity campaigns • Grows out of a people’s sense of belonging and regional self -consciousness

  28. Vernacular culture region

  29. Vernacular culture region • Not unique to North America • Northern Territory = “Outback Australia” • Transcends state lines • Japanese ties • Heavy duty bumper and “roo bars” to deflect wildlife

  30. Differences • How do vernacular culture regions differ from formal and functional regions • Often lack the organization necessary for funtional regions • Unlike formal regions, they frequently do not display cultural homogeneity • Many are rooted in the popular or folk culture

  31. Cultural diffusion • Spatial spread of learned ideas, innovations, and attitudes. • Each cultural element originates in one or more places and then spreads. • Some spread widely, others remain confined to an area of origin. • “100 Percent American” • Torsten Hägerstrand

  32. Cultural diffusion

  33. Expansion diffusion • Ideas spread throughout a population from area to area. • Creates a snowballing effect • Subtypes: • Hierarchical diffusion: ideas leapfrog from one node to another temporarily bypassing some • Contagious diffusion: wavelike, like disease • Stimulus diffusion: specific trait rejected, but idea accepted

  34. Relocation diffusion • Relocation diffusion occurs when individuals migrate to a new location carrying new ideas or practices with them • Religion is prime example

  35. Time-distance decay factor • Ripples on a pond. • Acceptance of an innovation is strongest where it originated. • Acceptance weakens as it is diffused farther away. • Acceptance also weakens over time.

  36. Barriers to diffusion • Absorbing barriers completely halt diffusion: Afghanistan. • More commonly barriers are permeable, allowing part of the innovation wave to diffuse, but acting to weaken and retard the continued spread.

  37. Diffusion

  38. Guangzhou (Canton), China • PRC recently opened it’s doors to foreign investment and a number of cities have been designated as Special Economic Zones. • An absorbing barrier has become permeable. • Sincle coastal cities were the first to allow foreign instrusions, these have highest influx of joint-venture projects.

  39. Diffusion • Proctor and Gamble has designed soaps and detergents for China’s specific water conditions. • Just as P&G diffused from North America to China, other manufacturers will diffuse into other parts of China.

  40. Diffusion • As more cities are opened China’s urban economies will become increasingly internationalized and each city will function as a key center of diffusion to places lower on the social-economic hierarchy. • How does time-distance decay play a role here?

  41. Stages of innovation acceptance • First – acceptance takes place at a slow steady rate. • Second – raid growth in acceptance and the trait spreads rapidly • fashion or dance fad • neighborhood effect • Third – slower growth and acceptance of innovation

  42. Neighborhood effect

  43. Hägerstrand

  44. Hägerstrand • Hägerstrand’s explanation of the core/periphery spatial arrangement of diffusion resembles pattern in culture regions • others say too narrow and mechanical • assumes all innovations are beneficial throughout geographical space • nondiffusion more prevalent than diffusion, but not accounted for

  45. Susceptibility to an innovation • More crucial when world communications are rapid and pervasive • Friction of distance is almost meaningless • Must evaluate and explain on a region-by-region basis • Inhabitants of two regions will not respond identically to an innovation • Geographers seek to understand spatial variation in receptiveness