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sequent occupance

  \'The view of geography as a succession of stages of human occupance … which establishes the genetics of each stage in terms of its predecessor\' (Whittlesey, 1929; cf. settlement continuity). Whittlesey\'s scheme owed much to human ecology, but although he knew that \'the analogy between sequent occupance in chorology and plant succession in botany will be apparent to all\', he insisted that his own conception was more \'intricate\'. While \'human occupance of area, like other biotic phenomena, carries within itself the seed of its own transformation\' (cf. dialectic(s)), such uninterrupted or \'normal\' progressions were \'rare, perhaps only ideal, because extraneous forces are likely to interfere with the normal course, altering either its direction or rate, or both\' and \'breaking or knotting the thread of sequent occupance\'. These detailed qualifications were vital, but Whittlesey was also determined to distance himself from \'the physiographic cycle of erosion\', an evolutionary scheme, with similar disclaimers — although few of those who followed in his wake displayed an equal caution or an equivalent subtlety (see Mikesell, 1975). The most successful applications of the concept (especially Broek, 1932) in fact departed from the series of stable cross-sections envisaged by Whittlesey and linked them with deliberately dynamic vertical themes, so that his projected systematization of the \'relatively few sequence patterns that have ever existed\' was never realized. (DG)

References Broek, J.O.M. 1932: The Santa Clara Valley, California: a study in landscape changes. Utrecht: Oosthock. Mikesell, M.W. 1975: The rise and decline of sequent occupance. In D. Lowenthal and M. Bowden, eds, Geographies of the mind: essays in historical geography in honour of John Kirkland Wright. New York: Oxford University Press. Whittlesey, D. 1929: Sequent occupance. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 19: 162-6.

Suggested Reading Mikesell (1975).



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