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  A school of human geography closely associated with the work of the German geographer Friedrich Ratzel (1844-1904). It was inaugurated by his Anthropogeographie. This was published in two volumes, in 1882 and 1891, and there were several differences in emphasis between them. To Hartshorne (1939), Ratzel organized his materials in the first volume \'largely in terms of the natural conditions of the earth, which he studied in their relation to human culture\', thereby reworking the ideas of Karl Ritter, whereas in the second volume \'Ratzel himself largely reversed the process\'; to Dickinson (1969), the first volume was essentially dynamic, \'an application of geography to history\', whereas the second was static and treated \'the geographical distribution of man\'. Both volumes have to be placed in the context of the contemporary debates within the German intellectual community over the place of the cultural sciences and their relation to the natural sciences (Smith, 1991; see also diffusion). For Ratzel, writing in the middle of what Bassin (1987a) describes as an \'imperialist frenzy\', and indeed contributing to it, the cultural development of a state could not be separated from its spatial growth. His project was not an environmental determinism, as some later commentators have suggested, but it was distinguished by the attempt to conduct a nominally scientific study of the relations between society and nature through the elaboration of a system of concepts.

In many ways Ratzel\'s Politische Geographie, published in 1897, represented the culmination of these ideals. There, Ratzel described the state as \'a living body which has extended itself over a part of the earth and has differentiated itself from other bodies which have similarly expanded\'. The object of these extensions and expansions, Ratzel argued, was always \'the conquest of space\', and it was this which became formalized in the concept of Lebensraum (\'living space\'): \'the geographical area within which living organisms develop\'. He was keenly aware of the dangers of organicism but, even so, insisted that: \'Just as the struggle for existence in the plant and animal world always centres about a matter of space, so the conflicts of nations are in great part only struggles for territory\' (see geopolitics; territoriality). Wanklyn (1961) treats Lebensraum as \'a fundamental geographical concept\', therefore, in her eyes, Ratzel\'s writings were directed primarily towards \'thinking out the scope and content of biogeography\'. There is certainly a distinguished tradition of biogeographic reflection within human geography, and in this sense there are important continuities between Ratzel\'s Lebensraum, Vidal de la Blache\'s genre de vie and the concept of rum (\'room\') developed in Hägerstrand\'s time-geography. If these continuities are recognized, then Dickinson\'s (1969) view of Ratzel\'s original formulation, stripped of its subsequent distortions by the Third Reich, as \'one of the most original and fruitful of all concepts in modern geography\' becomes peculiarly prescient. But such a purely \'biogeographical\' or \'scientific\' reading does scant justice to the context in which Ratzel was working and, in particular, ignores the fact that his vision of human geography not only had political implications but also rested on — and was indeed made possible by — a series of political assumptions (Bassin, 1987a, 1987b; Smith, 1991). (See also Lamarckianism.) (DG)

References Bassin, M. 1987a: Imperialism and the nation-state in Friedrich Ratzel \'s political geography. Progress in Human Geography 11: 473-9 5. Bassin, M. 1987b: Race contra space: the conflict between German Geopolitik and National Socialism. Political Geography Quarterly 6: 115-3 4. Dickinson, R. 1969: The makers of modern geography. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul; New York: Praeger. Hartshorne, R. 1939: The nature of geography: a critical survey of current thought in the light of the past. Lancaster, PA: Association of American Geographers. Smith, Woodruff. 1991: Politics and the sciences of culture in Germany 1840-1920. New York: Oxford University Press. Wanklyn, H. 1961: Friedrich Ratzel: biographical memoir and bibliography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Suggested Reading Bassin (1987a and b). Dickinson (1969), 64-76 .



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