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Human Geography Review

Course Code
Sean Doherty

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Chapter 1 Geography Matters
Geography matters because specific places provide the settings for people’s daily lives. It is in
these settings that important events happen, and it is from them that significant changes spread
and diffuse
Places and regions are highly interdependent, each filling specialized roles in complex and ever-
changing networks of interaction and change
Some of the most important aspects of the interdependence between geographical scales are
provided by the relationships between the global and the local
Human geography provides ways of understanding places, regions, and spatial relationships as the
products of a series of interrelated forces that stem from nature, culture, and individual human
The first law of geography is that “everything is related to everything else, but near things are
more related than are distant things”
Distance is one aspect of this law, but connectivity is also important, because contact and
interaction are dependent on channels of communication and transportation
Why Places Matter
Human Geography the study of spatial organization of human activity and of people’s
relationships with their environments
People everywhere struggle to understand a world that is increasingly characterized by instant
global communications, unfamiliar international relationships, unexpected local changes, and
growing evidence of environmental degradation
Places provide the settings for people’s daily lives; in these settings, people learn who and what
they are and how they should think and behave
People from different cultures will always have very different attitudes to spirituality, human
relationships, religion, and other factors that contribute to making us who we are
The Influence and Meaning of Places
Places contribute to people’s collective memory & become powerful emotional & cultural symbols
Ordinary places can have special meanings: a childhood neighbourhood, university campus (etc)
Places are socially constructed given different meanings by different groups for different
Places are also sites of innovation and change, of resistance and conflict
Places are settings for social interaction that, among other things,
- Structure the daily routines of people’s economic and social life
- Provide both opportunities and constraints in terms of people’s long-term and social well-
- Provide a context in which every day, commonsense knowledge and experience are gathered
- Provide a setting for processes of socialization
- Provide an arena for contesting social norms
The Interdependence of Places
Most places are interdependent, each filling specialized roles in complex and ever-changing
geographies (Think about Canadian companies relying on food, cheap labour from elsewhere)
The Interdependence of Geographical Scales

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Some of the most important aspects of the interdependence between geographical scales are
provided by the relationships between the global and the local scales
The study of human geography shows not only how global trends influence local outcomes but
also how events in particular localities can come to influence patterns and trends elsewhere
Interdependence as a Two-Way Process
As people live and work in places, they gradually impose themselves on their environment,
modifying and adjusting it to suit their needs and express their values.
At the same time, people gradually accommodate both to their physical environment and to the
people around them
There is thus a continuous two-way process in which people create and modify places while being
influenced by the settings in which they live and work
Why Geography Matters
Geography matters because, quite simply, it enable s us to understand our world and Canada’s
relationship with it
With such an understanding, it is possible not only to appreciate the diversity and variety of the
world’s peoples and places but also to be aware of their relationships to one another and to make
positive contributions to local, national, and global development
1.1 Geography Matters The Development of Geographic Thought
The Greek showed that places embody fundamental relationships between people and the natural
environment and that geography provides the best way of addressing the interdependencies
among places and between people and nature
The Greeks were almost certainly the first to appreciate the practical importance and utility of
geographic knowledge particularly in politics, business and trade
As Greek civilization developed, descriptive geographical writing came to be an essential tool for
recording information about sea and land routes and for preparing colonists and merchants for
the challenges and opportunities they would encounter in faraway places
Chinese maps of the world from the same period were more accurate than those of European
cartographers because they were based on information brought back by imperial China’s
admirals, who are widely believed to have successfully navigated
Geographical knowledge during the Middle Ages throughout Western Europe was dictated by the
views of the church, which taught that the world embodied Christian theology (P.15)
Christopher Columbus expected that he would reach China by sailing directly west across the
Atlantic from Spain a trip he believed lay easily within the reach of small ships at his disposal
because of his understanding of the ancient Greek’s calculations of the Earth’s circumference
Immanuel Kant argued that all knowledge could be divided into that which occurred in the time
(chronological) or space (the chorological). Was an influential philosopher, and his belief in the
intellectual importance of geography marked an important step in establishing it as a formal
Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) his life’s work emphasized the mutual
interdependence between the people, flora, and fauna with their physical setting (he called it “the
chain of connection”). In this way, he showed how people have adapted to their environment and
how their behaviours also affect the environment that surrounds them he emphasized the
mutual causality that exists among species and their environment
Carl Sauer (1925) argued that landscapes should provide the focus for the scientific study of
geography because they reflect the outcome, over time, of the interdependence of physical and
human factors in the creation of distinctive places and regions

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- Stressed that although everything in a particular landscape is interrelated, the physical
elements do not necessarily determine the nature of the human elements
Positivism scientific research method; using the direct measurements of observable phenomena
and established methods to verify hypotheses and construct universal laws and theories
Postmodernity celebrates difference and rejects positivism’s universal or general principles
Geography & Exploration
Cartography the body of practical and theoretical knowledge about making distinctive visual
representations of Earth’s surface in the form of maps
Explorations enabled European navigators to develop an invaluable body of knowledge about
ocean currents, wind patterns, coastlines, peoples and resource
Geographical knowledge acquired during the Age of Discovery was crucial to the expansion of
European political and economic power in the 16th century
In societies that were becoming more and more commercially oriented and profit conscious,
geographical knowledge became a valuable commodity in itself
Information about regions and places was a first step to control and influence, and this, in turn,
was an important step to wealth and power
At the same time, every region began to be opened up to the influence of other regions as a result
of the economic and political competition that was unleashed by geographical discovery
Map Projection a systematic rendering on a flat surface of the geographic coordinates of the
features found on Earth’s surface
Geography mattered but mainly as an instrument of colonialism
The result was that geography began to develop a disciplinary tradition that was strongly
influenced by:
- Ethnocentrism the attitude that a person’s own race and culture are superior to those of
- Imperialism the extension of the power of a nation through direct or indirect control of the
economic and political life of other territories
- Masculinism the assumption that the world is, and should be, shaped mainly by men for
These trends became more and more explicit as European dominance increased
Environmental determinism a doctrine holding that human activities are controlled by the
- Rests on the belief that the physical attributes of geographical settings are the root not only of
people’s physical differences (skin colour, stature, and facial features, for example) but also of
differences from place to place in people’s economic vitality, cultural activities and social
Interdependence in a Globalizing World
Globalization is a process and a condition that involves the increasing interconnectedness of
different parts of the world through common processes of economic, environmental, political and
cultural change
Geography in a Globalizing World
New telecommunication technologies, new corporate strategies, and new institutional framework
have all combined to create a dynamic new framework for real-world geographers
New information technologies have helped create a frenetic international financial system, while
transnational corporations are now able to transfer their production activities from one part of
the world to another in response to changing market conditions
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