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Geography is the study of the earth and its features, inhabitants, and phenomena. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes (276-194 B.C.). Four historical traditions in geographical research are the spatial analysis of natural and human phenomena (geography as a study of distribution), area studies (places and regions), study of man-land relationship, and research in earth sciences. Nonetheless, modern geography is an all-encompassing discipline that foremost seeks to understand the world and all of its human and natural complexities-- not merely where objects are, but how they have changed and come to be. As "the bridge between the human and physical sciences," geography is divided into two main branches - human geography and physical geography.
Traditionally, geographers have been viewed the same way as cartographers and people who study place names and numbers. Although many geographers are trained in toponymy and cartology, this is not their main preoccupation. Geographers study the spatial and temporal distribution of phenomena, processes and feature as well as the interaction of humans and their environment. As space and place affect a variety of topics such as economics, health, climate, plants and animals, geography is highly interdisciplinary.
|“||mere names of places...are not geography... know by heart a whole gazetteer full of them would not, in itself, constitute anyone a geographer. Geography has higher aims than this: it seeks to classify phenomena (alike of the natural and of the political world, in so far as it treats of the latter), to compare, to generalize, to ascend from effects to causes, and, in doing so, to trace out the great laws of nature and to mark their influences upon man. This is 'a description of the world'—that is Geography. In a word Geography is a Science—a thing not of mere names but of argument and reason, of cause and effect.||”|
— William Hughes 1863
Geography as a discipline can be split broadly into two main sub fields: human geography and physical geography. The former focuses largely on the built environment and how space is created, viewed and managed by humans as well as the influence humans have on the space they occupy. The latter examines the natural environment and how the climate, vegetation & life, soil, water and landforms are produced and interact. As a result of the two subfields using different approaches a third field has emerged, which is environmental geography. Environmental geography combines physical and human geography and looks at the interactions between the environment and humans.
- Main article: Human geography
Human geography is a branch of geography that focuses on the study of patterns and processes that shape human interaction with various environments. It encompasses human, political, cultural, social, and economic aspects. While the major focus of human geography is not the physical landscape of the Earth (see physical geography), it is hardly possible to discuss human geography without referring to the physical landscape on which human activities are being played out, and environmental geography is emerging as a link between the two. Human geography can be divided into many broad categories (for a comprehensive list see human geography), such as:
96px 96px 96px 96px 96px Cultural geography Development geography Economic geography Health geography Historical & Time geography Political geography & Geopolitics Population geography or Demography 96px 96px 96px 96px Religion geography Social geography Transportation geography Tourism geography Urban geography
Various approaches to the study of human geography have also arisen through time and include:
- Main article: Environmental geography
Environmental geography is the branch of geography that describes the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world. It requires an understanding of the traditional aspects of physical and human geography, as well as the ways in which human societies conceptualize the environment.
Environmental geography has emerged as a bridge between human and physical geography as a result of the increasing specialisation of the two sub-fields. Furthermore, as human relationship with the environment has changed as a result of globalisation and technological change a new approach was needed to understand the changing and dynamic relationship. Examples of areas of research in environmental geography include disaster management, environmental management, sustainability and political ecology.
- Urban planning, regional planning and spatial planning: use the science of geography to assist in determining how to develop (or not develop) the land to meet particular criteria, such as safety, beauty, economic opportunities, the preservation of the built or natural heritage, and so on. The planning of towns, cities and rural areas may be seen as applied geography.
- Regional science: In the 1950s the regional science movement led by Walter Isard arose, to provide a more quantitative and analytical base to geographical questions, in contrast to the descriptive tendencies of traditional geography programs. Regional science comprises the body of knowledge in which the spatial dimension plays a fundamental role, such as regional economics, resource management, location theory, urban and regional planning, transport and communication, human geography, population distribution, landscape ecology, and environmental quality.
- Main article: Psychogeography
The first edition of Internationale Situationniste defined psychogeography as "the study of the specific effects of the geographical environment (whether consciously organized or not) on the emotions and behavior of individuals." The term was first recognized in 1955 by Guy Debord while still with the Letterist International:
The word psychogeography, suggested by an illiterate Kabyle as a general term for the phenomena a few of us were investigating around the summer of 1953, is not too inappropriate. It does not contradict the materialist perspective of the conditioning of life and thought by objective nature. Geography, for example, deals with the determinant action of general natural forces, such as soil composition or climatic conditions, on the economic structures of a society, and thus on the corresponding conception that such a society can have of the world. Psychogeography could set for itself the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals. The charmingly vague adjective psychogeographical can be applied to the findings arrived at by this type of investigation, to their influence on human feelings, and more generally to any situation or conduct that seems to reflect the same spirit of discovery.—Guy Debord, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography
- Main article: Dérive
By definition, psychogeography combines subjective and objective knowledge and studies. Debord struggled to stipulate the finer points of this theoretical paradox, ultimately producing "Theory of the Dérive" in 1958, a document which essentially serves as an instruction manual for the psychogeographic procedure, executed through the act of dérive ("drift").
In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there… But the dérive includes both this letting go and its necessary contradiction: the domination of psychogeographical variations by the knowledge and calculation of their possibilities.—Ken Knabb
Geographic qualitative methods
- Main article: Ethnography
Geographic qualitative methods, or ethnographical; research techniques, are used by human geographers. In cultural geography there is a tradition of employing qualitative research techniques also used in anthropology and sociology. Participant observation and in-depth interviews provide human geographers with qualitative data.
- Behavioral geography
- Countries of the world
- Environmental psychology
- Health geography
- Human migration
- Psychology in each country of the world
- Regional differences
- Spatial epidemiology
- World psychology
- Geography. The American Heritage Dictionary/ of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company.
- Pattison, W.D. (1990). The Four Traditions of Geography. Journal of Geography 89 (5): pp. 202-6. ISSN 0022-1341. Reprint of a 1964 article.
- Hayes-Bohanan, James What is Environmental Geography, Anyway?.
- Hughes, William. (1863). The Study of Geography. Lecture delivered at King's College, London by Sir Marc Alexander. Quoted in Baker, J.N.L (1963). The History of Geography, p. 66, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
- What is geography?. AAG Career Guide: Jobs in Geography and related Geographical Sciences. Association of American Geographers.
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- Knabb, Ken, ed. Situationist International Anthology, Berkley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1995. pg 50.
- Multimedia Geography Resources
- Geographical Associations and Pressure Groups
- International Geographical Union
- National Geographic Online
- Royal Geographical Society
- Association of American Geographers
- Royal Canadian Geographical Society
- Canadian Association of Geographers
- Russian Geographical Society (Moscow Centre)
- International Geographical Union - Russian National Committee
- Colegio de Geógrafos - España
- Col.legi de Geògrafs - Catalunya
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