GGRB13 – Lecture 4 – January 30, 2012
REVIEW OF LAST WEEK:
Limits of Positivism
- Critiqued by people who saw themselves as human geographers
The growth of Humanism
- The experience of being human
- Humans are decision-makers
- Agency, a term that refers to autonomy and the way people interact in their world, the binaries
that shape things
- We employ decision-making patterns to make sense of our world
Carl Sauer: Humanism
- How do humans modify landscapes? How do you make a house a home?
- Geography concerned about breaking binaries (Ex. Space and Place)
- We can just blame physical geography, we need to think about our role, the human landscape
- Are there stories that we cannot see with our naked eye? That is what social geography is all
about, using your senses to create a map of your experience in space/place
Some of Sauer’s Thoughts
- Looking for patterns and associations
- Interpreting the lay of the land, keeping a mental map, noting any change in the scene
- Knowledge of the landscape (Ex. Tour guides know the landscape intimately)
- Looking at the world beyond numerical understandings
- What are the defining sounds of a landscape (soundscapes)? A different way of making sense
of the space is to hear the sounds
TODAY: VERNACULAR LANDSCAPES
- Amusement Parks and Malls
- They are not vernacular landscapes (normal/everyday)
- Scientific method frames how we look at the world and coming up with clear conclusions in
social and cultural geography
Yi-Fu Tuan (Humanistic Geographer)
“The quality of human experience in an environment is given by people’s capacity – mediated
through culture – the feel, think and act...”
- People’s capacity to do things is agency
- Being able to feel, think, and act - How do we relate to each other in space?
Ex. Why did you choose to sit next to that person? Are there spaces between you and that
- Landscapes of fear
- Fear is a big part of environments and helps create different kinds of spaces (Ex. safe
spaces on subways)
Positivism vs. Humanism
- Can the study of human phenomena ever be objective?
- Is there an interaction between the researcher and the researched that invalidates the
- Does the researcher have a personal background that effectively influences his or her choice of
problem, methods of interpretation of results?
- If we study humans objectively, does this mean we see them as objects?
What is Space?
- Absolute space: Forms the basis of map-making and spatial analysis
- Human geographers are skeptical of spatial analysis because they believe space itself does not
have any content and its importance lies only in its human context
- Geographers in the past saw space as space, it’s out there
- Tuan argues space’s importance lies in its context
- Space becomes a place when you increase familiarity
Social geography is about CONTEXT
- “Where are you at?” Where you are at that particular space and time, physically and
- What’s your context?
- Defining what the space is to you depends on your context, your relation to it, and your
role in changing the space (agency)
- Space has an important role to play in actively constituting society
- Significance of the local, the day-to-day, the grounding reality – your house, your
neighbourhood park, the workplace
- Human activity is influenced by social interaction
- Not an inert thing – students arrive to class, profs in offices, people who produce the institution
day in and day out
- Sculpting human activity
- Human activity produces university but human activities are shaped by the university
- Feedback loops: Production of space at work What is wrong with this Campus?
- Is there an impact of space on people?
- The campus feels like a dungeon, depressing, etc.
- Paul Bernardo went to UTSC
- This place tells many different stories and have different impacts on people
What is place?
- Place refers to a location with a specific identity
- Longitude and Latitude
- A sense of place is evoked in relation to a distinctive place with special significance
- McDonald’s is a place (based on this definition) because it is a specific location and identity,
but it can also be a space
- Sacred space refers to a place that is respected usually for a religious purpose
Ex. Church, synagogue, temple
- Mundane space is occupied by humans but has no particular quality
- Topophilia refers to the love for a place, we all experience love for a particular place
- Is an airport a place?
- The concept of placelessness, refers to landscapes that are relatively similar (airports)
- You’ve been to many airports that they all seem to be the same (or similar)
- Empirical non-places are characteristic of the contemporary world (Marc Auge)
- What are some other non-places?
Ex. Library, mall, Canadian Tire, freeways
- Spaces of circulation, places that are always moving that you cannot reflect
- A place would be like a cottage because you have time to consume and reflect
- Place is paused (allows for consumption), space is movement
- Where people co-exist without living together
- Marked by transience (Ex. Libraries, you go in and leave, you don’t live there)
- Fleeting, temporary and ephemeral (short-lived, non-permanent)
- Where history is not relevant, history does not matter (think about the world of history and its
impact on your senses)
- Space of travellers Yi-Fu Tuan
- What are the effects of a mobile world on the experience of place in modernity?
- Mobility on space, what are its effects on place in modernity?
George Clooney in “Up in the Air”
- You’ve been to the airport so many times that you know how to move around
- Everyone makes different connections; one may make a connection when others do not
- For Clooney, everything else is transient but the airport is his home
- Pseudo place are advanc