lecture-1 - THIS HUMAN WORLD An Introduction to Human...

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Unformatted text preview: THIS HUMAN WORLD An Introduction to Human Geography Agenda • Review course syllabus • What is Human Geography? • How does Human Geography relate to the rest of Geography? • How does Human Geography relate to other intellectual pursuits? • Why am I a geographer? • How would a geographer approach the subject of wine? “Arles at Easter. The cracked blare of small bands on cobblestone streets. Spain’s influence announces itself in small bars that serve Spanish tapas washed down with French pastis. In the Roman amphitheater, soaked in light the color of pale champagne, witness a dreadful beauty: the ballet of man and bull. Perhaps it is the swirl of scarlet cape, the suits of light that allow us to forget the gleam of steel until the end.” “Letters from France” National Geographic July 1989, p.70. Tourism promotion • “San Antonio captures the spirit of Texas. Now the ninth largest city in the United States, the city has retained its sense of history and tradition, while carefully blending in cosmopolitan progress. The city has always been a crossroads and a meeting place. Sounds and flavors of Native Americans, Old Mexico, Germans, the Wild West, African-Americans and the Deep South mingle and merge. Close to eight million visitors a year delight in the discovery of San Antonio's charms.” • Ninth largest city in the US? Not exactly a lie, but not really aimed at enlightening the reader, either. • US metropolitan areas • San Antonio Convention and Visitor’s Bureau http://www.sanantoniocvb.com/visitors/com_history.asp Antiquated landscape geography Elisee Reclus (1882) “Constantinople is one of the most beautiful cities in the world … As we approach the entrance of the Golden Horn, seated in a caïque (rowboat) more graceful than the gondolas of Venice, the vast and varied panorama around us changes with every stroke of the oars. Beyond the white walls of the Seraglio and its masses of verdure rise here, amphitheatrically on the seven hills of the peninsula, the houses of Stamboul—its towers, the vast domes of its mosques, with their circlets of smaller domes, and its elegant minarets, with their balconies.” Antiquated landscape geography Elisee Reclus (1882) “On the other side of the haven, which is crossed by bridges of boats, there are more mosques and towers, seen through a forest of masts and rigging, … Farther in the distance we perceive Kadi-koei, the ancient Chalcedon, and the small town of Prinkipo, on one of the Princes’ Islands, whose yellow rocks and verdant groves are reflected in the blue waters of the Sea of Marmara. The sheet of water connecting these various portions of the huge city is alive with vessels and boats, whose movements impart animation to the magnificent picture. The prospect from the heights above the town is still more magnificent. The coasts of Europe and Asia are beneath our feet, the eye can trace the sinuosities of the Bosphorus, and far away in the distance looms the snow-capped pyramidal Antiquated geography The Family Cyclopedia of Useful Knowledge (New York, 1889) “The moral condition of the lower classes [of Mexico] is frightfully degraded. Insecurity of life and property, a chronic state of revolution, and gambling and drunkenness have caused such a degeneration of the masses, that an American writer has recently declared, that the only hope of the regeneration and civilization of Mexico, is in the absolute extinction of fully seven of her eight millions of inhabitants. Among the higher classes the prospect is hardly more pleasing. Empty formalities, the haughtiness of the old Spanish Grandees, and a show of nobility are joined to intellectual insignificance, callousness of feeling, and a pride of race simply contemptible.” What distinguishes today’s geographical description? • Complex causality • Impersonal (or explicit reference to author’s positionality) • Tries to avoid ethnocentrism • Tries to blend description and analysis • Tries to blend the specific (situation or pattern) with the general (geographical systems and processes) • Pays attention to the potential impacts of geographical writing on various human groups (reflexivity) What do we need to avoid? • Bad geographical writing is: – Inaccurate – Irrelevant – Ethnocentric – Simplistic – Biased – Socially harmful Human Geography Physical Geography Two Main Topical Divisions with many subdivisions What is Human Geography? 1. Human geography is one half of the discipline of geography, if it is cut up on the basis of topics 2. Geography need not be cut up on the basis of topics (the topical approach), it can also be cut up on the basis of regions (the regional approach) – To some extent, this class will use both approaches, which is a bit of a variation on my normal approach 3. Geographers also use a range of special techniques, skills, and tools, that form their own sub-specialization within the discipline (e.g. cartography, GIS, remote sensing, geodetics, etc.) – You will be acquainted with thematic mapping and cognitive mapping in this course Specialties in Geography political geography economic geography urban geography geography of religions geography of language demography human-environment relations fluvial geomorphology climatology biogeography soil geography study of landforms glacial geomorphology ecology Does it get more specialized than this? • Of course… • Every geographer carves out his or her area of expertise • At a University like UT professors must publish and publishing depends on making new discoveries (or at least new arguments) – the boundaries of the discipline (and subdisciplines) are constantly being reconsidered • There are Bible geographers, wine geographers, political geographers, economic geographers, dry-land geomorphologists, and even paleopedologists (people who study ancient bits of soil trapped and preserved like fossils) • Most of these also have a regional specialization • A handful specialize in communication geography Cognate Disciplines Each specialization in geography has its own related cognate discipline (or disciplines) political geography political science economic geography economics These provide theories, data, funding sources, etc. urban geography Geography contributes concepts of space, place, region, flows, mobility, diffusion, and other peculiarly “geographical” ways of thinking about things geography of religions theology geography of language linguistics urban planning So why am I a geographer? TOPOPHILIA ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENT RESEARCH INTERESTS TOPOPHILIA2 A Closer Look at Complex Causality Geography of Wine What do you think causes wines from different regions to taste different? What environmental factors play a part? Multiple Environmental Factors What are they? Factors leading to regional differentiation in wines • Environmental factors – Soil – Terrain – Climate • • • • Days of sunshine Frost-free days Amount of precipitation Etc. • All of this leads to different strains of grapes in different regions, and different tasting grapes in different places – (Geography is a flavor!) Philosophical Questions • How significant is the role played by environment? • How significant is the role played by social forces such as laws and traditions? • How significant is personal choice, judgment, free-will? Laws & Economic Forces • in France the concept of terroir is protected by law – A "terroir" is a group of vineyards from the same region sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine making savoir-faire, which combine to give a distinctive character to the wine. – While other places may share these characteristics, the wines they produce cannot use certain terms in the label like “Champagne,” “Beaujolais,” or “Côtes du Rhône” “Controlled origin-name” Old labels, note place names but not phrase “appellation d’origine contrôlée ” Factors leading to regional differentiation in wines • Economic factors shaping landuse: – The appellation controllée maximizes the profits for producing a particular kind of wine if one happens to live in a region granted a particular appellation – Why? Consider the difference in cost between buying a “sparkling white wine” and a real “Champagne” – The premium placed on a “real” champagne (etc.) naturally causes regions to specialize in producing particular kinds of wines (and growing particular grapes) rather than experimenting – An economic policy instrument drives agriculture – Our understanding of the world reflects the world, but also shapes the world (by shaping our behavior) So does environment determine a cultural practice like wine-making? • There is always free will • “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.” Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 - 1980) – One generally agrees with Sartre when thinking of individuals • Yet when we think in the aggregate we know that location deeply affects: – – – – – – What people learn to do and not to do (knowledge & behavior) What people notice in the world around them (perception) What people consider “normal” (customs & mores) What people consider good and bad (morals) Who people know (social networks) How people explain their actions to themselves (reflexive thought) – How people understand the condition of being-in-the-world (selfidentity) Complex Causality • Geography reflects the reciprocal influence of: – Environmental factors – Social/cultural factors – Individual initiative/free will Environmental factors Social/cultural factors Individual initiative/free will Complex Causality Environmental factors Social/cultural factors Individual initiative/free will Summary • Geography is both a way of understanding the world and an aspect of the world susceptible to being understood (geographers study geography …) • Geography is not the same as writing about places – It is held to a higher standard of respect and reflexivity • Geography is divided into human geography and physical geography, and subdivided into various topical and regional specializations – The specializations correspond with various cognate disciplines ranging from geology to psychology • Geographic causality is multiple and complex • Geographical findings that are valid in the aggregate level do not always apply at the individual level ...
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