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geography, history of

  Because the term \'geography\' means, and has meant, different things to different people in different times and places, there is no agreed-upon consensus on what constitutes the project of writing the history of this enterprise. Moreover, while the story of geography as an independent scholarly discipline is inescapably bound up with the history of the professionalization of academic knowledge since around the middle of the nineteenth century, it is clear that the history of geography as a discourse not only operates without such constraints but also reaches beyond the historical and institutional confines of the modern-day discipline. Of course geography as discourse and discipline are interrelated in intimate ways — one might even say that the purpose of a discipline is precisely to \'discipline\' discourse. Nevertheless there is frequently a considerable difference in both substance and style between those writing the history of these respective geographies.

Although the task of reconstructing geography\'s history has had its critics, some of whom are suspicious of the interests at stake in the entire enterprise (Barnett, 1995), it would not be unreasonable to suggest that some of the most significant interventions into recent debates on the relationships between knowledge, representation and power, have emanated from those concerned with the ways in which geographical knowledge has been socially constituted (Gregory, 1993). Some of these associations will surface below.

So far as the modern academic discipline of geography is concerned, those chronicling the course of historical change have conducted their investigations in a variety of ways. Some have concentrated on the subject\'s institutional expression, and accordingly have produced histories of a range of geographical societies. Others have organized their material around national traditions or schools, such as the French School (Buttimer, 1971; Berdoulay, 1981), the German tradition (Schultz, 1980), and the British School (Freeman, 1980). Still others have considered the biographies of key professional geographers — Halford Mackinder (Parker, 1982; Blouet, 1987), Isaiah Bowman (Martin, 1980) and Ellsworth Huntington (Martin, 1973) have all been the subject of full-length biographies — while shorter biographical sketches of a wider range of figures have appeared in the serial Geographers: Biobibliographical Studies. Biographical treatments are also available of figures looming large in the story of the subject\'s pre-professional past, such as Humboldt (Botting, 1973), Ritter (Beck, 1979), Reclus (Dunbar, 1978), Marsh (Lowenthal, 1958), and Shaler (Livingstone, 1987).

Of course these emphases do not exhaust the range of work available on the history of geography as a discipline. More specialist treatments of how modern geographical thinking has engaged with wider theoretical currents have been produced (Peet, 1998); histories of sub-disciplines like historical geography have been provided (Butlin, 1995); and the significance of school geography texts and their role in conveying imperial attitudes about race and gender have been scrutinized (Maddrell, 1998). Cumulatively these and similar works have served to demonstrate the immense range of interests and styles expressed by the subject\'s disciplinary historians embracing philosophy, social theory, intellectual history, and cultural critique.

Inevitably those works dealing with geographical discourses come in a variety of guises. Crucial here is the definition of what passes as \'geographical\' by the historian in question. Beazley\'s (1897-1906) The dawn of modern geography emphasized the history of medieval travel and exploration, whereas for Eva Taylor (1930) mathematical practice, surveying and navigation assumed greater importance in her investigations into the character of Tudor Geography. J.K. Wright\' s (1965) Geographical lore of the time of the crusades focused more on earth description with its cartographic and cosmographical correlates, and similarly commented that the project covered \'a wider field than most definitions of geography\' (p. 2). Also dealing with the pre-professional past, Glacken\'s (1967) monumental Traces on the Rhodian Shore explored the contact zone between nature and culture, acknowledging that he had thereby to transcend the conventional limits of the modern discipline. More recently, Bowen\'s (1981) compendious survey of geographical thought from Bacon to Humboldt constitutes a sophisticated historical apologia for an ecological, anti-positivistic vision of the subject. By contrast, in a survey of \'Theoretical Geography\', Wilson (1972) presented his own alternative history of geography as spatial science in which the names of mathematically inclined economists and sociologists loomed large while the names of geographers were conspicuous by their absence. Alongside these treatments of geographical discourse by geographers is a range of related works by historians of science dealing with allied subjects such as biogeography (Browne, 1983), meteorology (Frisinger, 1977), geology (Laudan, 1987), geomorphology (Davies, n.d.; Tinkler, 1985), human ecology (Mitman, 1992), environmental science (Bowler, 1992), and ideas of nature (Merchant, 1980; Marshall, 1992). Voices are also increasingly being heard from historians of cartography (Edney, 1997), of which the first volumes of the projected series spearheaded by Harley and Woodward (1987) promise to be the most comprehensive investigation to date (see cartography, history of).

These relatively specialist studies are supplemented by a number of what Aay (1981) calls \'textbook chronicles\' — synthetic treatments designed for student consumption that provide an overview of the field (Dickinson, 1969; James, 1972; Holt-Jensen, 1988). It is now plain, however, that these surveys all too frequently lapsed into apologies for some particular viewpoint — geography as regional interrogation, the study of occupied space, or some such. Moreover, their strategy was typically presentist, namely using history to adjudicate present-day controversies; internalist, in the sense that they paid scant attention to the broader social and intellectual contexts within which geographical knowledge was produced; and cumulative, portraying history in terms of progress towards some perceived contemporary orthodoxy. It is scepticism about precisely these assumptions, however, that a greater sensitivity to currents of historiographical thinking has induced. Accordingly, there have recently been a number of appeals for contextual readings of the tradition (Livingstone, 1979; Stoddart, 1981), and a range of strategies has therefore been deployed in the endeavour to achieve this aim.

Leaving aside their problematic reading of Kuhn, some have turned to his Structure of scientific revolutions (1962) to characterize the history of geography as an overlapping succession of paradigms enshrined in a number of key texts: Vidal\'s possibilism, Huntington\'s environmental determinism, Sauer\'s landscape morphology (cf. landscape; morphology), Hartshorne\'s areal differentiation, and Schaefer\'s exceptionalism are typical candidates for paradigm status (Harvey and Holly, 1981; Mair, 1986). In such scenarios, however, a good deal of historical typecasting and editorial management has had to be engaged in. Others have begun to take more seriously the work of the sociologists of scientific knowledge and have examined, for instance, the role of \'invisible colleges\' and \'socio-scientific networks\' (Lochhead, 1981: see science, geography and), and the relationships between cognitive claims and institutional arrangements (Capel, 1981). Sociological tools — Bruno Latour\'s actor-network theory, for example — have been deployed to interpret geography\'s mid-twentieth century quantitative revolution (Barnes, 1998). At the same time the Marxist historical materialist perspective has been marshalled as a means of elucidating the way in which geographical knowledge and practices have been used to legitimate the social conditions that produced that knowledge in the first place (Harvey, 1984). Still others have seen in the philosophical literature on the cognitive power of metaphor a key to unlocking aspects of geography\'s history (Buttimer, 1982; Barnes and Duncan, 1992), through delineating the different uses of, say, mechanistic, organic, structural, and textual analogies. Thus Barnes (1996) has compellingly shown the relevance of these philosophical manoeuvres for understanding the history and conceptual structure of modern economic geography. The insights of Foucault on the intimate connections between space, surveillance, power, and knowledge, and of Said on the western construction of \'non-western\' realms(seeOrientalism,exploration,travelwriting) have also begun to be mobilized and to open up new vistas to the history of geography by unmasking the pretended neutrality of spatial discourse in a variety of arenas both within and beyond the academy.

Cumulatively, such calls for re-reading geography\'s history have begun to contribute towards a growing variety of revisionist accounts of particular episodes, among which mention might be made of the links between magic, mysticism and geography at various times (Livingstone, 1988; Matless, 1991), geography\'s complicity in the shaping of imperial ambitions and national identity in the early modern period (Withers 1995, 1996; Shaw, 1996; Cormack, 1997; see imperialism), the intimate connections between geography, empire, health and racial theory (Livingstone, 1991; Driver, 1992; Bell, 1993; Godlewska and Smith, 1994; cf. racism), the complicity of German geography in the Nazi programme (Sandner, 1988, Rössler, 1989; see geopolitics), the relations between landscape representation, artistic convention and denominational discourse (Cosgrove and Daniels, 1988; Mayhew, 1996), the circumstances surrounding debates over the boundary between geography and sociology in turn-of-the-century France (Friedman, 1996), the imperial mould in which early environmentalism was cast (Grove, 1995), the place of geography in a range of enlightenment discourses (Livingstone and Withers, 1999), the relations between geography and travel writing, and calls for feminist readings of the tradition (Domosh, 1991; Rose, 1995; see feminist geographies). As for practical engagements, Ryan\'s (1998) account of the connections between geography, photography and racial representation in the Victorian era, and feminist reflections on fieldwork have opened up these arenas to theoretically informed interrogation. Embedded within at least some of these accounts is a conviction that \'geography\' is a negotiated entity, and that a central task of its historians is to ascertain how and why certain practices and procedures come to be accounted authoritative, and hence normative, at certain moments in time, and in certain spatial settings.

It is plain, then, that the \'history of geography\' comprises a variety of enterprises that have been engaged in various ways. Nevertheless, a broad shift can be detected from the \'encyclopaedism\' of earlier works (which operated in a cumulative-chronological fashion) towards a more recent \'genealogical\' perspective (which aims to disclose the tangled connections between power and knowledge). The subversive character of the latter has been embraced with differing degrees of enthusiasm: some now insist that the idea of History as a single master narrative is a western \'myth\' (Young, 1990), while others, either unenam-oured of an altogether radical relativism (in which truth is taken to be relative to circumstance) or suspicious that the genealogist is implicated in an impossible self-referential dilemma (namely that the thesis is self-refuting), suggest that there is more value in thinking of discourses as \'contested traditions\' — socially embodied and temporally extended conversations that act as stabilizing constraints on the elucidation of meaning (MacIntyre, 1990). Insofar as \'encyclopaedia\', \'genealogy\' and \'tradition\' as modes of historical interrogation reflect differing attitudes towards what has come to be called the Enlightenment project (see Enlightenment, geography and), the history of geography has a significant role to play in debates within the discipline over the relations between knowledge, power, representation, and social constitution. Moreover, the recent reassertion of the significance of place and space in historical investigations of human knowing (Livingstone, 1995; Shapin, 1998) suggests that \'the history of geography\' as an undertaking could benefit (ironically perhaps) by taking \'geography\' more seriously — namely, by reconceptualizing the enterprise as \'the historical geography of geography\'. (DNL)

References Aay, H. 1981: Textbook chronicles: disciplinary history and the growth of geographic knowledge. In B.W. Blouet, ed., The origins of academic geography in the United States. Hamden, CN.: Archon Books, 291-301. Barnes, T.J. 1996: Logics of dislocation: models, metaphors, and meanings of economic space. New York: Guilford. Barnes, T.J. 1998: A history of regression: actors, networks, machines, and numbers. Environmental and Planning A 30: 203-23. Barnes, T.J. and Duncan, J.S. 1992: Writing worlds: discourse, text and metaphor in the representation of landscape. London: Routledge. Barnett, C. 1995. Awakening the dead: who needs the history of geography? Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 20: 417-19. Beazley, C.R. 1897-1906: The dawn of modern geography, 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Beck, H. 1979: Carl Ritter, Genius der Geographie: Zu Seinem Leben und Werk. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag. Bell, M. 1993: \'The Pestilence that Walketh in Darkness\'. Imperial health, gender and images of South Africa c.1880-1910. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 18: 327-41. Berdoulay, V. 1981: La Formation de l\'École Française de Géographie (1870-1914). Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale. Blouet, B.W. 1987: Halford Mackinder: a biography. College Station, Texas: Texas A. & M. University Press. Botting, D. 1973: Humboldt and the Cosmos. London: Sphere Books. Bowen, M. 1981: Empiricism and geographical thought: from Francis Bacon to Alexander von Humboldt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bowler, P.J. 1992: The Fontana history of the environmental sciences. London: Fontana. Browne, J. 1983: The secular ark: studies in the history of biogeography. New Haven: Yale University Press. Butlin, R.A. 1995: Historical geography: through the gates of space and time. London: Wiley. Buttimer, A. 1971: Society and milieu in the French geographic tradition. Chicago: Rand McNally. Buttimer, A. 1982: Musing on helicon: root metaphors and geography. Geografiska Annaler, Series B, 64: 89-96. Capel, H. 1981: Institutionalization of geography and strategies of change. In D.R. Stoddart, ed., Geography, ideology and social concern. Oxford: Blackwell, 37-69. Cormack, L.B. 1997: Charting an empire: geography at the English universities, 1580-1620. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Cosgrove, D. and Daniels, S., eds, 1988: The iconography of landscape. Essays on the symbolic representation, design and use of past environments. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Davies, G.L. n.d.: The earth in decay. A history of British geomorphology 1578 to 1878. London: MacDonald. Dickinson, R.E. 1969:The makers of modern geography. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Domosh, M. 1991: Towards a feminist historiography of geography. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 16: 95-104. Driver, F. 1992: Geography\'s empire: histories of geographical knowledge. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10: 23-40. Dunbar, G.S. 1978: Elisée Reclus: historian of nature. Hamden: Archon Book. Edney, M. 1997: Mapping an empire: the geographical construction of British India. 1765-1843. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Freeman, T.W. 1980: A history of modern British geography. New York and London: Longman. Friedman, S.W. 1996: Marc Bloch, sociology and geography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Frisinger, H. 1977: The history of meteorology to 1800. New York: Science History Publications. Glacken, C. 1967: Traces on the Rhodian Shore: nature and culture in western thought to the end of the eighteenth century. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Godlewska, A. and Smith, N., eds, 1994: Geography and empire. Oxford: Blackwell. Gregory, D. 1993. Geographical imaginations. Oxford: Blackwell. Grove, R.H. 1995: Green imperialism: colonial expansion, tropical island Edens and the origins of environmentalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Harley, J.B. and Woodward, D., eds, 1987: History of cartography. Volume One. Cartography in prehistoric, ancient, and medieval Europe and the Mediterranean. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Harvey, D. 1984: On the history and present condition of geography: an historical materialist manifesto. Professional Geographer 36: 1-10. Harvey, M.E. and Holly, B.P. 1981: Paradigm, philosophy and geographic thought. In M.E. Harvey, and B.P. Holly, eds, Themes in geographic thought. London: Croom Helm, 11-37. Holt-Jensen, A. 1988: Geography: history and concepts, 2nd edn. London: Paul Chapman. James, P.E. 1972: All possible worlds. a history of geographical ideas. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Kuhn, T. 1962: The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Laudan, R. 1987: From mineralogy to geology. The foundations of a science, 1650-1830. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Livingstone, D.N. 1979: Some methodological problems in the history of geographical thought. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 70: 226-31. Livingstone, D.N. 1987: Nathaniel Southgate Shaler and the culture of American Science. London: University of Alabama Press. Livingstone, D.N. 1988: Science, magic and religion: a contextual reassessment of geography in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. History of Science 26: 269-94. Livingstone, D.N. 1991: The moral discourse of climate: historical considerations on race, place and virtue. Journal of Historical Geography 17: 413-34. Livingstone, D.N. 1995: The spaces of knowledge: contributions towards a historical geography of science. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 13: 5-34. Livingstone, D.N. and Withers, C.W.J. eds, 1999: Geography and enlightenment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lochhead, E. 1981: Scotland as the cradle of modern academic geography in Britain. Scottish Geographical Magazine 97: 98-109. Lowenthal, D. 1958: George Perkins Marsh. Versatile Vermonter. New York: Columbia University Press. MacIntyre, A. 1990: Three rival versions of moral enquiry: encyclopaedia, genealogy, and tradition. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press. Mayhew, R. 1996: Landscape, religion and knowledge in eighteenth century England. Ecumene 3: 454-71. Maddrell, A.M.C. 1998: Discourses of race and gender and the comparative method in geographical school texts 1830-1918. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 16: 81-103. Mair, A. 1986: Thomas Kuhn and understanding geography. Progress in Human Geography 10: 345-69. Marshall, P. 1992: Nature\'s web: rethinking our place on earth. London: Simon & Schuster. Martin, G.J. 1973: Ellsworth Huntington: his life and thought. Hamden, CN: Archon Books. Martin, G.J. 1980: The life and thought of Isaiah Bowman. Hamden, CN: Archon Books. Matless, D. 1991: Nature, the modern and the mystic: tales from early twentieth century geography. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 16: 272-86. Mayhew, R. 1996: Landscape, religion and knowledge in eighteenth century England. Ecumere 3: 454-71. Merchant, C. 1980: The death of nature: women, ecology and the scientific revolution. New York: Harper & Row. Mitman, G. 1992: The state of nature: ecology, community, and American social thought, 1900-1950. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Parker, W.H. 1982: Mackinder: geography as an aid to statecraft. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Peet, R. 1998: Modern geographic thought. Oxford: Blackwell. Rose, G. 1995: Tradition and paternity: same difference? Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 20: 414-16. Rössler, M. 1989: Applied geography and area research in Nazi society: central place theory and planning, 1933 to 1945. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 7: 419-31. Ryan, J.R. 1998: Picturing empire: photography and the visualization of the British empire. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Sandner, G. 1988: Recent advances in the history of German geography 1918-1945. A progress report for the Federal Republic of Germany. Geographische Zeitschrift 76: 120-33. Schultz, H.-D. 1980: Die Deutschsprachige Geographie von 1800 bis 1970: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte ihrer Methodologie. Berlin: Geographische Institut der Freien. Shapin, S. 1998: Placing the view from nowhere: historical and sociological problems in the location of science. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 23: 1-8. Shaw, D.J.B. 1996: Geographical practice and its significance in Peter the Great\'s Russia. Journal of Historical Geography 22: 160-76. Stoddart, D.R. ed., 1981: Geography, ideology and social concern. Oxford: Blackwell. Taylor, E.G.R. 1930: Tudor geography. London: Methuen. Tinkler, K.J. 1985: A short history of geomorphology. Totowa: Barnes & Noble. Wilson, A.G. 1972: Theoretical geography. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers 57: 31-44. Withers, C.W.J. 1995: How Scotland came to know itself: geography, national identity and the making of a nation, 1680-1790. Journal of Historical Geography 21: 371-97. Withers, C.W.J. 1996: Geography, science and national identity in early modern Britain: the case of Scotland and the work of Sir Robert Sibbald. Annals of Science 53: 29-73. Wright, J.K. 1965 [orig. pub. 1925]: The geographical lore of the time of the crusades. A study in the history of medieval science and tradition in western Europe. NewYork: Dover Publications. Young, R. 1990: White mythologies: writing history and the West. London: Routledge.

Suggested Reading Johnston, R.J. 1997: Geography and geographers: Anglo-American human geography since 1945, 5th edn. London: Edward Arnold. Livingstone, D.N. 1992: The geographical tradition: episodes in the history of a contested enterprise. Oxford: Blackwell. Stoddart, D.R. 1986: On geography and its history. Oxford: Blackwell.



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