Unformatted text preview: Themes in Cultural Geography
Different lenses on the world "There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees." Michel de Montaigne Five Themes Culture Region Cultural Diffusion Cultural Interaction Cultural Ecology Landscape Studies KEY GEOGRAPHICAL CONCEPTS and TERMS Culture Culture trait Culture region similarities in an area Cultural diffusion movement of a trait Formal Functional Vernacular Expansion diffusion Relocation diffusion contagious expansion diffusion hierarchical expansion diffusion What is culture? Pervasive Learned Difficult to perceive from "inside" Transmitted through socialization What makes "us" different from "them" Culture includes forms of social control and oppression that are resisted and negotiated by those in the subordinate position Contestation may lead to occasional shifts in cultural norms Shared Contested What is Culture? Culture is the set of learned behaviors and symbolic systems transmitted through socialization, as well as the set of material artifacts and systems used by a social group. You are to your culture as a fish is to water: normally it is so thoroughly ubiquitous that you have no way of recognizing it; you can only know of its existence by temporarily leaping out (through thought or intercultural encounters) "It's frightening to think that you mark your children merely by being yourself. It seems unfair. You can't assume the responsibility for everything you do or don't do." Simone De Beauvoir CULTURE TRAITS Three types of culture traits Traits are the essential elements of culture These three types of culture traits are interrelated: a trait like the can opener implies the can (artifact), which implies a marketbased economy (sociofact), which implies the idea of money (mentifact), etc... Remember "hidden geographies" ? artifacts (material) mentifacts (symbolic) sociofacts (organizational) ARTIFACTS What sociofacts and mentifacts might go along with them? Feet like this were considered pretty for over 1000 years in China Part of Culture Complex Sociofacts: Confucianism Mentifacts: Children are expected to be subservient to adults Women are expected to be subservient to men Status Tolerance for oddsmelling feet Physical impairment understood collectively as a sign of a family's prestige Human presence in a place is always embodied Embodied performance in place always reflects power relations In other words, a family shows that it is "good" (powerful) by displaying the "prettiness" (powerlessness) of its women In the "best" families women are obviously dependent and helpless New Chinese Fad Leg stretching (leglengthening.jpg) Why? For economic success "Short people cannot succeed" The body's size conveys its power to succeed in business, law, etc. Capitalism is diffusing into China so this new value system guides a reworking of the body What ethical and moral values prevent this bodily deformation from diffusing into the US? What bodydeforming practices do our values permit, and why? Does Western culture include deformation of the body? A bodydeforming artifact found as early as 3000 BC (Crete) Later used by aristocratic and aspiring American & European women Popularized in 19th c. Narrowed waist to 15 inches or less causing health problems Shortness of breath Fainting Back problems Inability to participate in strenuous activities (including work, but also play) Sociofacts linked to the use of the corset Endured in modified form into the 1950s Women of the upper classes "needed help" (out of seats, up stairs, etc.) Families showed their class by preventing girls from engaging in strenuous activities like sports and manual labor "Good" women were "delicate" and dependent Girls from workingclass families were not embodied in this way From an 1883 diary While we were waiting for mother we witnessed [another teen] being most harshly laced by two other corseteriers, while she grasped an overhead bar they leveraged her laces almost brutally despite her painful groans... after brief pauses this process was repeated three times until her mother granted approval.. although her waist was wonderfully narrowed she clearly was in pain having to be assisted to a seat... http://corsethome.eu.org/diary2.html Yes, but we don't deform the body to make it look thin any more! Actually we do, but the technology is chemical rather than physical 63% of American girls in their teens have dieted Only 14% are happy with their body size and shape In other words, these are the bodydeforming artifacts that match our sociofacts and mentifacts Is feminine "fragility" still a sign of social status, or is some other mentifact involved in today's social pressure for women to be thin? What other bodydeforming artifacts in American culture can you identify? A "rite of passage"? "Many kids will get them on when they're 10 or 11, and they'll be getting them off when they're starting to hit 13," Dr. Baarsvik said. "It's a real rite of passage. It kind of prepares them for the teen years." http://www.st.com/daily/1099/1012 99/c01he206.htm#cut What are the social benefits of a "perfect" smile? CULTURE REGION Types of Culture Regions Formal Region Functional Region Area where one or more traits can be found (region where people employ leglengthening surgery) Area where one or more traits are dominant (Anglophone region of North America) Area tied together by a coordinating system (law, monetary system, roads, etc.) Area that ordinary people (nongeographers) recognize as a region (e.g. New England) Vernacular Region What level of occurrence constitutes "presence" of a trait in a particular formal culture region? People in the region engage in certain activities belong to a particular group possess certain artifacts all of them? most of them? some of them? Is New Braunfels part of Texas' Hispanic culture region? If we call this a region where people have access to stateofthe art health care, are we leaving part of the population out? From the New Braunfels c.o.c. website ... Culture complexes a culture complex is a closely related set of culture traits Some links are historical Some links are causal Germanic language Protestant religion Romance language Catholic religion urban culture tolerance of lifestyle diversity Multiple traits define overlapping culture regions (formal) Edges of culture regions exceptions to general pattern of culture complexes transition zones areas of conflict areas of diffusion CULTURAL DIFFUSION "An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come." Victor Hugo, 'Histoire d'un crime,' 1852 Cultural Diffusion Defined An increase in the spatial extent of a particular culture trait or culture complex either through movement of people through space (migration) or through the adoption of a culture trait by other groups. PIZZA What was required before frozen pizza could become popular in the US? saturation of market with electrical refrigeration dependence on the car for shopping trips demand for fast food women in the workforce changing attitudes about gender roles small families etc. Map example: diffusion of religion Types of Diffusion Factors affecting diffusion barriers to diffusion different culture lack of necessary infrastructure different language different religion etc. where are computers least likely to diffuse? where are large grocery stores least likely to diffuse? Factors affecting diffusion cultural receptivity to diffusion Factors that cause diffusion to occur or accelerate diffusion
same culture necessary infrastructure affluence what else? same language same religion etc. Cultural Ecology Humanenvironment relationships To what extent does the environment affect culture? environment culture To what extent does culture rework the environment? culture environment General Trend Environmental determinism has been rejected Current approaches are based on ecology and possibilism Much greater focus on human impacts on the environment than on the environment's cultureshaping force Antiquated language of Environmental Determinism mixed with Racism "None of these tropical peoples ... has a native civilisation, or is fitted to play any part in history, either as a conquering or as a thinking force, or in any way, save as producers by physical labour of material wealth. None is likely to develop towards any higher condition than that in which it now stands, save under the tutelage, and by adopting so much as it can of the culture, of the five or six European peoples which have practically appropriated the torrid zone, and are dividing its resources among them. Yet the vast numbers to which, under the conjoint stimuli of science and peace, these inferior black and yellow races may grow, coupled with the capacity some of them evince for assimilating the material side of European civilisation, may enable them to play a larger part in the future of the world than they have played in the past." James Bryce, British Ambassador to the US, 1892 Cultural Ecology Organismenvironment relationship is reciprocal and mutually constitutive, that is, it is a twoway street. The same is true of humanenvironment relations. Animals adapt to their environments over eons, genetically People adapt through culture Culture is an adaptive strategy mainly (but not entirely) limited to humans, involving learned, cooperative behavior and major environmental modifications Possibilism Scientific philosophy that the environment does not determine elements of culture, but it does set bounds on the possible or probable forms that culture will take Natural environments offer opportunities and constraints from which culture groups must choose, based on their knowledge and internal power relations Cultural Landscape Studies
start with what you see Case Study Orrtana PA Houses How old do they appear to be? Are there particular styles from a certain period? Do the styles change over time? Other Buildings What are they for? What do they tell you about the way people lived in the past and present? "Pennsylvania Barn"
Why do you think it has a "forebay"? Springhouse
What is it for? Why here? Vegetation What appears to be the natural vegetation of this area? What kinds of plants are people cultivating here? How has the possibility of growing these cultivars shaped life in this place? How have people reworked their natural environment to favor their cultivars? Commerce What is being sold? Who is selling to whom? How is this activity reflected in the visible landscape? Good landscapebased geography Get a feel for the place Try to partially escape the outsider's perspective Discover elements of an insider's sense of place Rather than analyzing the place in abstract terms or simply describing features, try to understand how it feels to live here Ask: "What are the meanings people attach to places and things in this landscape?" Family ties of landscape geography Travel writing evolved out of the early landscape geography (see Reclus quote), and it continues the tradition of evocative language and appeal to the emotions 20th c. Geography reacted against the impressionist, poetic nature of early geographical writings by adopting a more analytical approach and more prosaic language National Geographic is somewhere in between Review Culture Culture trait Culture region Difficulty perceiving from inside Complicated Can be defined by: Cultural diffusion The expansion of a culture trait through space due to:
Expansion diffusion A culture trait (formal region) A combination (complex) of culture traits (formal region) An organizing structure or system (functional region) Popular culture (vernacular region) Formal Functional Vernacular Cultural interaction Adaptation and significant reinterpretation (stimulus diffusion) Barriers and Receptivity to Diffusion contagious expansion diffusion The neighborhood effect hierarchical expansion diffusion Communications and commerce Relocation diffusion Immigration Cultures are integrated systems in which each part (trait) is linked to all of the others This situation makes it most appropriate to identify culture regions defined not by single traits but by complexes of traits ...
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This note was uploaded on 09/28/2008 for the course GRG 305 taught by Professor Adams during the Fall '08 term at University of Texas.
- Fall '08