Tuesday, September 09, 2008

FINALLY.... my summary of the first seven chapters!

Hello all: I struggled with the length of this summary and honestly....novelists always struggle with length. I took a machete and chopped and hacked it down, so hopefully I didn't go too much over the 250 word limit. This summary covers the first seven chapters and probably does not do them justice, but.....I have Toby's [my dog] seal of approval, plus he's begging to go out, so have at 'er

Torsten Hagerstrand’s 1957 book, Diffusion as Spatial Process was characterized as a pioneering work, but it was written in Swedish and wasn’t translated into English for 14 years, which for English speaking scholars, placed him squarely after the likes of William Bunge’s book published in 1962, and Peter Haggett’s in 1965.

It’s hard to say if Hagerstrand’s work was pivotal to either of Bunge’s or Haggett’s work, but what was apparent is that geography in the 1960s was experiencing raging debates about how to, as Bunge put it , ”… establish its credentials as a science.” David Harvey’s book titled Explanation in Geography continued the focus on theory, model, hypothesis and law, which was becoming common in geography research as researchers worked to produce knowledge that was cumulative.

Peter Haggett’s 1965 book titled Locational Analysis in Human Geography deals with models and origins of hypotheses in human geography as well as statistical methods. Haggett wrote that, “…the quality of geography for this century will be evaluated less on its techniques and details and more on its logical reasoning.” In Kevin Cox’s 1973 book titled Conflict, Power and the Politics in the City, we see a continued focus on empiricism through three important goals: the advancement of rigorous accounts that would explain urban problems, the publication of policy implications of urban analysis and the discussion of the necessary governmental actions required to address these problems.

Toward the mid 1970s, Edward Relph’s book, titled Place and Placelessness arrived on the scene along with Yi-Fu Tuan’s book, titled Space and Place. In their review of Relph’s book, David Seamon and Jacob Sowers state his most original contribution was his description of insideness and outsideness. Relph also preserved the concept of space and place as being one, while Tuan in Space and Place, creates a division between space and time. Tuan writes,” place can be understood as a pause in time as well as space.” Creswell writes that, “Geographies of space, 30 years on from Tuan’s book, share his concern for meaning, belonging and experience...”

2 comments:

Sarah said...

I chose to read all these articles out of order because I thought I would have to do more thinking in order to understand how they fit together. I was right! But not in the way I wanted to be... I became more upset than enlightened. There's a sharp divide for me (probably because I’m new) that occurs somewhere in the 70s before which the developments of the discipline are easy to understand and make sense, and after which they become impenetrable on first read and seem to stem from alien minds. I wished this hadn't happened. After the divide it felt like theory and dogma had taken over reality, and everyone was all yelling at the top of their voice in a small room on the edge of the galaxy. I couldn’t find the positive constructive voices I was looking for. The writings from before the divide contained these positive qualities, but they also contained some surprise: could it really be true that it took until the 60s to instill a sense of explanatory purpose? And until the 70s to explore the personal experience of space? These seem so obvious today.

Your summaries and the discussion in class brought out a better side of these essays for me. I'm more ready to see that the 80s made some interesting theoretical contributions that are still in effect today, and I have more information about geography's late start.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the book. Maybe I’ll find a place where I’m comfortable in this new discipline.

Jacob said...

I chuckle as I read your writeup of "Key Works", not in a patronizing or sarcastic way, but one that stems from nostalgia how my first geog. thought/social geography/place theory classes and your perspective of the trials of academic geography in the last half of the 20th century are quite similar. "impenetrable" "alien" "couldn’t find the positive constructive voices"---I could not agree more when I first tried to translate my love of geography with what passed as "geography". I gave up on the wars and focused first on human experience and what first drew me to geography---the varying ways people experience their place(s). If you are disillusioned I suggest to approach Seamon and Sowers(Me :) )article, remembering that terms don't matter until you dig the underlying principle and connect to it---words are the bastard children of experience . Think about what excites you about places...read how Relph was trying to give a language straight from the experience. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words...well what about the existential connections to a hometown? How can we possibly explain these and the changes that are occurring to these place experiences over time. This is where I believe Relph can help a geog Undergrad/grad student---he tries to use jargon only to help you remember what it means to be a geographer...to be human.

Always stay thirsty.

Jacob Sowers
jsowers@missouristate.edu