The Nature of Cultural Geography Chapter 1 The Human Matrix
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
Cultural geography • Focuses on cultural phenomena that may vary or remain constant from place to place • Explains how humans function spatially
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
No easy explanations for cultural phenomena • Many complex causal forces • Wheat cultivations (next slide) • Cultural geography seeks explanations of diverse casual factors
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
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.
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.
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.
Territorial extents of a culture region depend on what defining traits are used.
Formal culture regions • Many different formal regions can be created • Depends on traits • Geographer’s intuition
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
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.
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.
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
Farm as a formal culture region • all land owned and leased, farmstead is node, borders marked by fences, hedges
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
Vernacular culture regions • A region perceived to exist by its inhabitants, has widespread acceptance and uses a special regional name.
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
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
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
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
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
Relocation diffusion • Relocation diffusion occurs when individuals migrate to a new location carrying new ideas or practices with them • Religion is prime example
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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
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