- Slides: 37
Geography: Concepts, Subject Matter, traditions, contributors, Branches, Research direction etc. by Md. Humayun Kabir, Ph. D Professor Dept. of Geography & Environment University of Dhaka
Geography -is often defined as the study of interactions between humans and the environment over space and time. -“The relationship of the earth and the humans”— Karl Ritter (1779 -1859). -“Geography is the description of the humans on earth”---Sir Dudley Stamp (1898 -1966). -Geography is the science that helps to determine the relationship between humans and the earth.
Geography -In other words, geography looks at the relationship between people and their environment or everything that surrounds people and affects their lives. The environment includes both living things, such as people, plants, and animals, and nonliving things, such as air, water and soil. -Geography is the study of the human influences on environment and how human activities over time alter the natural landscape into a cultural landscape (Sauer, 1938).
Geography -Geography is the science that interprets relationships between all the different things that exist together on earth. -Geography is the exact and organized knowledge of the distribution of phenomena of the surface of the earth concluding the explanation of humans and the terrestrial environment. --Dimensions of Geography: Space & Time
Traditions of Geography -Four historical traditions in geographical research include: -Spatial Analysis of the natural and the human phenomena. In other words, geography as the study of distribution -Area Studies (places and regions) -Study of the Human-Land relationship -and Research in the Earth Sciences
Contributors in Geography Eratosthenes (276 BC – 194 BC) --was a Greek Mathematician, geographer, poet and athlete -He was the first person to use the word "geography" in Greek and he invented the discipline of geography -He also invented the system of latitude & longitude --He was the first person to calculate the circumference of the earth & calculated the tilt of the earth’s axis
--Eratosthenes is the first to produce a map of the known world --He was the first to calculate the distance between the earth and the sun 19 th century reconstruction of Eratosthenes' map of the known world, c. 194 BC.
Strabo (64/63 BC – ca. 24 AD) -was a Greek Geographer, Philosopher & historian - Strabo's life was characterized by extensive travels. - Strabo is most famous for his 17 volume work Geographica, which presented a descriptive history of people and places from different regions of the world known to his era.
Strabo (64/63 BC – ca. 24 AD) --Strabo studied under several prominent teachers of various specialties throughout his early life -- Strabo is pro-Roman politically but culturally reserves primacy to Greece.
Claudius Ptolemy (AD 90 – c. AD 168) -- was a Greco-Roman writer of Alexandria, known as a mathematician, geographer, astronomer, astrologer & poet -- He lived in the city of Alexandria in the Roman province of Egypt, wrote in Greek, and held Roman citizenship -- Ptolemy's other main work is his Geographia. -- This also is a compilation of what was known about the world's geography in the Roman Empire during his time.
Claudius Ptolemy (AD 90 – c. AD 168) --he assigned coordinates to all the places and geographic features he knew, in a grid that spanned the globe. --Ptolemy also devised and provided instructions on how to create maps both of the whole inhabited world
Development of Modern Geography -Alexander von-Humboldt (September 14, 1769 – May 6, 1859) and Karl Ritter ((August 7, 1779 – September 28, 1859) are considered the initiators of modern geography.
Development of Geography -Geography that was mostly based on landscape/ landforms, soil, climate, natural vegetation and flora/fauna was established as Physical Geography by Alexander von Humboldt. - Alexander’s ideology inspired Charles Darwin who published Origin of the Species in the middle of 19 th century.
Interaction between man & environment -The discussion of natural environment on humankind is from the ancient period -Ancient scholars agreed & described the immense influence of environment on human lives. -the relatively modern scholars/geographers disavowed the environmental influence rather described humankind’s capacity and modifying potential of the environment. -Therefore the debate on human-environment interactions or influences has been a very important topic in cultural geography.
Environmentalism -the idea/thought of the environment’s influence and control over humankinds is known as environmental determinism. -the first clear idea of environmentalism was presented by Hippocretes (460 BC-370 BC), an ancient Greek physician in his publication Air, Water and Places (published in 420 BC). -He described the climatic influence on the European’s health and narrated that due to extreme climate the Europeans are physically strong and active but unsocial. -In contrast, the Asians are not militarily strong due to the very unique climatic conditions.
Aristotle (384 -322 BC): Greek Philosopher also described the influence of natural environment on the Europeans. -In his opinion, the Europeans are very energetic due to very cold weather but they have lack of wisdom and skill. -In contrast the Asians (located in the southern part) due to summer climate are very intelligent but less energetic. Therefore they are dependent and like to be tied with slavery.
Strabo (63/64 BC- ca 24 AD): Greek historian, geographer & philosopher also described the influences of climate and physiography on human lives in his publications. French Philospher Jean Bodin (1530 -1596): During Renaissance, he was a strong supporter of environmentalism. -He claimed that the variation in human characteristics is due to the influences of three climatic regions of the earth.
-The influence of Aristotle was reflected in his ideology. -He also believed that people in the winter-dominant regions are active but not intelligent. Contrarily, in the summer climate dominant regions, people are intelligent but dependent and like to be under monarchy. He presented his country ‘France’ as very environmentally favourable. Mostesguieu (1689 -1755): political thinker & writer also described the influence of environment (climate) on the European health.
-Like the previous scholars he also described the importance of climate on the human characteristics. -He thought, “the inhabitants of the winter dominant regions are active, brave and strong. Thomas Henry Buckle (1821 -1862), an English historian in his unfinished History of Civilization preached the idea of environmental determinism or influence of environment on human lives. He opined that the influence of climate on every step of human lives is indispensable.
-Miss Ellen Semple (1832 -1932): One of the lead American geographers supporting environmentalism was a student of German geographer Friedrich Ratzel (18441904). She was the most closely associated with the work of environmentalism and Anthropogeographie. -She translated the book Anthropogeographie- the influences of Geographic environment published in 1911. -Ratzel was in favour of environmentalism but later disregarded the idea. Semple believed that humans are the direct result of earth’s surface and the natural environmental influences on human’s physiques.
Major limitation of Environmental Determinism -the idea was perceived by the scholars based on their observations and data collected from their surrounding environments but not scientifically examined.
Possibilism Humans are not controlled by the environment rather humankinds have the potential to use the natural environment as their own. In other words, the environment offers/presents various opportunities before them, and they select one or more possibilities with the help of their cultural backgrounds. Paul Febre, a French scholar explained possibilism in his publication Geographical Introduction to History.
-he described that over a long period of time, humans with the help of immense efforts and decisions have been the most influential agent in changing the earth’s surface. Paul Vidal de la Blache (1845 -1918) (said to be the founder of French Geography) also largely contributed in preaching the idea of possibilism. -He is also considered as the founder of possibilism as an opposite ideology of environmental determinism.
-He emphasized on the immense importance on human’s lifestyles in analyzing human’s activities. -He clearly explained his idea in his publication Principles of Human Geography. -Jean Brunhes (1869 -1930) another French scholar also supported the idea of possibilism. He has emphasized on human’s culture in man-environment interactions. Among American Geographers, two prominent scholars Isaiah Bowman (1878 -1950) and Carl O Sauer (1889 -1975) have challenged the idea of determinism in preaching possibilism.
-Carl O Sauer in his publication Morphology of Landscape (1925) explained how humans influence on natural landscape in transforming cultural landscape over a long span of time. Geographers’ contemporary perspectives on two thoughts - These two ideas can be integrated in a way that one is not considered as the parallel of other rather two ideologies can be studied together scientifically.
Branches of Geography Geographers may study a small area, such as a town, or large areas, such as a country or Earth as a whole. They often divide their studies into physical geography and cultural geography. Physical geography focuses on the natural world with its different landforms, weather conditions, plants, and bodies of water. Cultural geography looks at how human beings relate to their environment and to one another.
Branches of Geography -Physical Geography (geomorphology, fluvial process, hydrology, climatology/meteorology, soil and biogeography, Oceanography, glaciology etc. ) -Human Geography (Cultural geography, political geography, economic geography, social geography, historical geography, regional geography, urban geography, medical geography, settlement geography, rural geography, agricultural geography etc. ) -Mathematical Geography (statistical geography, cartography, modeling, application of remote sensing & GIS)
Tools & Techniques in Geography -Maps and globes are both important tools of geography. -statistical techniques, cartography, modeling, application of remote sensing & GIS)
Nature of Geographical Research -Research methods can either be extensive or intensive -”Extensive research methods emphasize on the pattern and regularity of large representative data sets, which is assumed to represent the outcome of some underlying regularity or process” (Clifford et al. , 2010). -Intensive research designs emphasize describing on a single case study or small number of case studies, with the maximum amount of detail (Clifford et al. , 2010).
Nature of Geographical Research cont--Geographers have given attention on vast ranges of subject matter. For example- most aspects of the world (physically or environmentally determined, or politically, economically or culturally constructed) have been considered as suitable for geographical research. -However, the range of geographical enquiry continues to increase. Traditionally geographers considered contemporary human and physical world together with their historical configurations, thus extending geographies to the past and to the present (temporal).
Nature of Geographical Research cont--In both physical and human geography the range is even greater, while physical geographers have access to new techniques of absolute and relative environmental dating, and greater ability to gather, analyze and visualize large amounts of data. -Physical geographers can reconstruct palaeo-environments and landform development, as well as model this into the future over timescales ranging from years to geological epochs. -PG is increasingly emphasizing on the interconnection between biophysical, atmospheric and earth science, and also includes human activity as a driver or response to earth and environmental change.
Nature of Geographical Research cont--In human geography technological advances in areas such as GIS allow more flexible and more creative analysis of data. -the subject is traditionally within the domains of psychology and cultural anthropology. -Until 1980 s, geography was largely either a physical (environmental or geological) science, a social science or some combination of the two).
Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches in Geography -Quantitative methods involve the use of physical (science) concepts and reasoning, mathematical modeling and statistical techniques to understand geographical phenomena. -In 1960 s, a period of quantitative revolution in geography that the application of mathematics/quantifications was more widespread and more sophisticated in Anglo-American geography. -Ian Burton (1963) is one of the pioneers in introducing quantitative approaches in geography to establish scientific relationship.
Designing a geographical research project -Conventionally geographical research programmes have been presented as a sequence of steps or procedures. Steps are— • formulation of the research problem- asking a question in a precise, testable manner and which requires consideration of the place and time-scale of the work. • defining the hypothesis- the generation of one or more assumptions which are used as the basis of investigation, and which are subsequently tested. • Determination of data type to be collected- how much, in what manner is sampling or measurement to be conducted.
Designing a geographical research project cont. . • Collection of data- either primary from the field or archive, or secondary from the analysis of published materials. • Analysis and processing of data- selecting appropriate quantitative and presentational techniques. • Stating conclusions- currently this might also include the presentation of findings verbally or in publication.
Geography in Disaster Management • Geography deals with human-environment interaction. • Geography helps to understand the geophysical characteristics of a context (place) • Geographical location determines the occurrences of disasters. • Disaster is an event that causes damage to lives and properties. Effective management of disasters demands on indepth knowledge on geographical aspects of a specific location/site. • Therefore, understanding the physical-human settings (geographical characteristics) largely help to manage/mitigate disaster losses.
Geographers’ Contributions to Natural Hazard Studies Gilbert Fowler White (November 26, 1911 in Chicago– October 5, 2006 in Boulder Colorado) was a prominent American geographer, sometimes termed the "father of floodplain management" and the "leading environmental geographer of the 20 th century" (Wescoat, 2006). -White is known predominantly for his work on natural hazards, particularly flooding, and the importance of sound water management in contemporary society.