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Human Geography

This guide highlights the resources for Human Geography, the study of human settlements in their places.

Defining "the city"

An agglomeration of people, businesses, and governmental institutions whose activities service a wider region and which, in the 21st century, is normally connected to international flows of information, goods, money, and people. Many cities are governed by a local state body responsible for some or all of the urban area. In rare cases, such as Washington, DC or Brasilia, politics becomes a city’s raison d’être. There are no internationally agreed criteria for identifying cities, for example, by extent or population size; each country or, in the case of the USA each state, designates cities according to its own rules, which usually include legal or jurisdictional elements. A city has some power, for example, over taxation, planning, or control over schools, not possessed by other districts. Although English-speaking countries generally refer to cities as places with more inhabitants than towns, in other languages—German and French for example—there is no such distinction. In China, by contrast, there is a threefold hierarchy of municipal-, prefecture- and county-level cities, the minimum size for which is set at 100,000 non-agricultural workers. Canadian cities may possess fewer than 10,000 inhabitants.

Viewed more historically, cities have undergone a number of transformations in form, function, and meaning. Although there is some debate, it is commonly agree that cities first emerged with the Neolithic revolution in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, China, and Egypt. A combination of agricultural surplus, classes not directly engaged in agriculture, writing, and organized religion consolidated in cities. Cities also developed as centres of trade, around marketplaces, and political power (see pre-industrial city). With the Industrial Revolution, urban areas were increasingly characterized by agglomeration, the dense and inter-dependent concentration of labour and factories famously described by Friedrich Engels in Manchester, UK.  ...

Rogers, A., Castree, N., & Kitchin, R. (2013). City. In A Dictionary of Human Geography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 10 Aug. 2021

In the library's collections

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Finding scholarly articles and journals