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Unformatted text preview: GEOGRAPHICAL QUESTIONS QUESTIONS Some inspiration on the path to knowledge… knowledge… “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” • Rene Descartes “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” • Voltaire More abstract LAYER 1 LAYER Location questions Layer 1 Layer Where is it? Where do people speak English? Where is Bhutan? Where does most of the world’s lithium come from? Layer 1 Layer What is there? What’s the average rainfall in the Amazon basin? What is the population of New York City? How many dwelling units are there in Tokyo? This is what most people think of as “geography” of We have to be careful of ethnocentrism • • • • • Shapes what we ask Shapes how we ask it Shapes what we don’t ask Shapes how we answer the questions Shapes the kind of answers we assume to be reasonable, unreasonable, or simply off topic LAYER 2 LAYER Process questions What is a process? What Processes involve movement and change • What moves? Money Ideas Goods People • What changes? everything Layer 2 Questions Layer What processes of human movement and culture change have created the pattern of English­speaking places? What processes have given Bhutan’s culture its distinctive character? What are the routes used to export lithium from South America? (remember, movement is a process) LAYER 3 LAYER Causality questions What causes what? What Everything we observe in the world has countless “roots” We can trace these roots to better understand why things are the way they are Layer 3 Layer Why is English the shared second language in Papua New Guinea? What causes Bhutan’s high infant mortality rate? Why is South American the main region of the world producing Lithium for export purposes? • Is lithium concentrated there? • Is lithium processed there but left as­is in other places? Ethnocentrism Ethnocentrism Of course we don’t automatically escape ethnocentrism by asking causal questions • However, the general, long­term effect of asking causal questions is to break down fixed assumptions about the world • This effect is greatly assisted by the open “evolutionary” nature of scholarly debate LAYER 4 LAYER Conceptual questions Layer 4 Layer What dynamics affect language change when two groups using different languages come into contact? What does Bhutan teach us about the effects of geographical isolation? How does dependence on the exportation of minerals affect a country’s economy? Ivory Tower Debates? Ivory Questions at this level may seem to be (a) boring, (b) irrelevant, or (c) excessively abstract In reality, these questions directly challenge assumptions so for those most familiar with them, they are the most interesting and radical questions These questions and their answers are often treated as “political” because they undermine ethnocentrism The answers can still be framed through systematic and verifiable methods In short… In Real geographers don’t just ask about facts like Jimmy’s father does They ask questions about processes, causes, and concepts Some of these questions are fundamentally unsettling because they challenge ethnocentrism Some of the answers are viewed as “political” because their answers are what Gore would call “inconvenient” STRUCTURE OF THE DISCIPLINE DISCIPLINE Two Main Topical Divisions with many subdivisions many Physical Geography Human Geography What is Human Geography? What 1. Human geography is one half of the discipline of geography, if it is cut up on the basis of topics 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) Geographers also use a range of special techniques, skills, and tools, that form their own sub­specialization within the discipline (e.g. cartography, GIS, remote sensing, geodetics, etc.) 2. 3. 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? this? At a University like UT professors must publish and publishing depends on making new discoveries (or at least new arguments) There are many topical or thematic specialties • the boundaries of the discipline (and subdisciplines) are constantly being reconsidered Most geographers also have a regional specialty Your prof specializes in communication geography, North America and Europe • Bible geographers, wine geographers, political geographers, economic geographers, dry­land geomorphologists, even paleopedologists (people who study ancient bits of soil trapped and preserved like fossils) Cognate Disciplines Each specialization in geography has its own related cognate discipline (or disciplines) These provide theories, data, funding sources, etc. Geography contributes concepts of space, place, region, flows, mobility, diffusion, and other peculiarly “geographical” ways of thinking about things So why am I a geographer? geographer? TOPOPHILIA ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENT RESEARCH INTERESTS TOPOPHILIA2 A Closer Look at Complex Causality Complex Geography of Wine Geography What do you think causes wines from different regions to taste different? What environmental factors play a part? Multiple Environmental Factors Multiple What are they? Factors leading to regional differentiation in wines differentiation Environmental factors • • • Soil Terrain Climate Days of sunshine Frost­free 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!) Questions about causality 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, free­will? Laws & Economic Forces Laws 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 savoir­faire, 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 origin­name” Old labels, note place names but not phrase “appellation d’origine contrôlée ” Factors leading to regional differentiation in wines differentiation 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? cultural There is always free will “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.” Jean­Paul Sartre (1905 ­ 1980) Yet when we think in the aggregate we know that location deeply affects: • • • • • • • What people learn (knowledge & behavior) What people notice (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 being­in­the­world (self­identity) Complex Causality Complex 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 Complex Environmental factors Social/cultural factors Individual initiative/free will Geographers ask questions about processes, causes, and concepts Geography is both a way of understanding the world and an aspect of the world 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 Summary Summary Geographical 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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This note was uploaded on 03/31/2011 for the course GRG 305 taught by Professor Adams during the Spring '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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