Thursday, May 2, 2013

More than trees and capes: Cultural geography

Image above: One place, two cultures. Cultural difference on the beach on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

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Where am I??
Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'

Are these geography?

Breadth of subject matter is one of geographies great strengths but also greatest weakness. What topics are actually geography, compared to them being social studies or history? The following sites and articles are certainly interesting but are they geography? Yes they are about people from different places (local to global) and do help us reflect on some of the key concepts of geography but are they geography? The branches of geography called social geography and cultural geography are open to interpretation as to their geographical relevance. Some geographers see social and cultural geography being more social studies than geography, whilst other geographers see these branches as enriching to the perception of geography beyond the physical (real human geography) and certainly worthy of being studied in the geography curriculum. We certainly had debates about this as we wrote the Australian Curriculum: Geography over recent years. What is important in this discussion is that it is not the topic which makes anything geography but rather the geographical lens that the students (and teachers) use as they explore and examine a topic. This point of view certainly has been explored in previous Spatialworlds postings - "Geography: more than meets the eye", 'What makes geography geography" and "Geography is everywhere and everything"

So what is cultural geography and social geography?

"Cultural geography is the study of cultural products and norms and their variations across and relations to spaces and places. It focuses on describing and analyzing the ways language, religion, economy, government and other cultural phenomena vary or remain constant, from one place to another and on explaining how humans function spatially."

"Social geography is the branch of human geography that is most closely related to social theory in general and sociology in particular, dealing with the relation of social phenomena and its spatial components."

Now have a read of the following topics, put your 'geography hat' on and try to explain how these topics are geography (either social or cultural). Yes, geography is everything!!

Image from the Global Education resource titled, Thinking Globally.

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