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Defining geography

‘The science of place and space. Geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the Earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another, and how people interact with the environment’ (AAG). ‘The subject that bridges the natural and human sciences in understanding societies, places and environments’ (Royal Geog. Soc. with IBG). ‘A fundamental fascination with, and a crucial method for, understanding the way the world works’ (A. Bonnett 2008).

‘The nature of geography has meant different things for different people in different places’ (P. Hubbard 2002). Thus the Royal Dutch Geographical Society claims that geography ‘puts knowing into seeing’, while Swedish geography ‘manifests itself as a form of scholarly praxis that…developed through a process of theoretically informed, hermeneutic reflection concerned with the endogen principles, and history, of geographical writing’ (Olweg (2007) AAAG 97, 4). Shaw and Oldfield (2007) AAAG 97, 1 identify landscape science as a Russian geographical tradition. Bruneau (2005) Sing. J. Trop. Geog. 26, 3 suggests that tropicality has had an epistemologically stronger and more institutionalized relationship with francophone geography than with anglophone geography. Bonnett (2003) Area 35, 1 holds that the spirit and purpose of geography should be ‘a militant anti-parochialism and a refusal of ethnocentrism’. Abbott (2006) Sing. J. Trop. Geog. 27, 3 argues that whiteness ‘as an analytical framework’ challenges the legitimacy of overseas geographical fieldwork. Barnes and Farish (2006) AAAG 96, 4 identify new modes of understanding and representing geography in America that were ‘closely wedded to broader geopolitical conditions of war and militarism’. ‘The collective work of geographers involves persistently questioning what is left out of the consolidation of any particular geographic account, vision, map, or idea [such as the Iraq War]’ (Sparke (2007) AAAG 97, 2). ‘War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography’ (Ambrose Bierce).   ...

Mayhew, S. (2015). Geography. In A Dictionary of Geography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 23 May. 2023

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