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Human Geography

by: Nora Bray

Human Geography GEOG 1200

Nora Bray
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in-class notes
Human Geography
Timothy Anderson
Class Notes
human geography




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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Nora Bray on Tuesday February 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to GEOG 1200 at Ohio University taught by Timothy Anderson in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 25 views. For similar materials see Human Geography in Geography at Ohio University.


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Date Created: 02/16/16
Section 3: The concept of Human “culture  Varying definitions and critiques of “culture”  Core-periphery relationships  What is “culture”? o In the postmodern era, it is a term whose meaning is hotly debated, critiqued, and “deconstructed” o It means much to some academics, and nothing at all to others o However one defines it, it is central to the field of human geography in terms of how it varies spatially and affects and shapes cultural landscapes  Traditional definitions: 1. Sociology: the codes and values of a group of people (laws, codes, structures) 2. Anthropology: everyday ways of life of a group of people (linguistic norms, religious ideals, food, dress, political structures 3. Human geography: not particularly interested in defining it, but rather understand how it is expressed in cultural landscapes, esp. its physical manifestations A. Varying definitions and critiques 3. Until the 1970s, most cultural geographers were content to rely on definitions of culture developed by other social scientists: a distinctive way of life that distinguishes one group of people rom another; this includes:  Beliefs (religious beliefs and political ideals)  Speech (language)  Institutions (governments)  Technology (skills, tools, resources)  Values and traditions (art, architecture, food, dress, music) 4. A “culture region” is an area in which a distinctive way of life is dominant  Cultural values and traditions are: 1. Learned, not genetically inherited 2. Passed on from generation to generation by means of a mutually intelligible symbol pool (language, speech, iconography)  The new cultural geography critique 1. Heavily influenced by postmodern literary and philosophical thought 2. “Traditional” cultural geography tells us little about the nature of the world and of its societies and “landscapes” 3. “Culture” is not a “thing” but rather a “process” that shapes values, traditions and ideals and is shaped by a person’s class, gender, race and sexuality 4. The cultural landscape is conceptualized as a “stage” upon which societal problems, struggles and processes are worked out; it can be “read” and interpreted, much like a text can 5. Social and political discourses are “materialized” in cultural landscapes B. Core-Periphery Relationships  Folk Cultures 1. Ways of life practiced by groups that are usually rural, cohesive and homogeneous with respect to traditions, lifestyles, and customs 2. Relatively weak social stratification 3. Goods and tools handmade according to “tradition” 4. Non-material traits (stories, lore, religious ideals) are often more important than material traits (structures, technologies) 5. Economies are usually subsistence in nature, focused on agriculture 6. Order is usually based around the ideal of the nuclear family, ancient traditions, and religious ideals 7. Probably non-existent in the core regions of the world- economy 8. Common in most of the periphery and rural, isolated parts of the semiperiphery  Popular cultures 1. Based in large, heterogeneous societies that are ethnically plural and thus a plurality of traditions, values, ideals, ethics 2. Constantly changing (folk cultures are inherently conservative) 3. Influenced by fads, trends, mass communication, advertising 4. Quick diffusion of fads and trends and information facilitated by mass communication (TV, the internet, satellites) 5. Popular culture “defines” the societies of the core and much of the semiperiphery – what we read, how we receive news, what music we listen to, what food we eat, etc. 6. Material goods are mass produced 7. Secular institutions (government, the film industry, multinational corporations, etc.) “control” fads and trends more than anything else 8. A trend toward standardization over space and throughout large populations (fads and trends are reproduced everywhere)  The popularization of Folk Traditions: the historical geography of Hip Hop o Hip hop as a cultural movement consists of a variety of urban African-American genres and elements, including:  Art  Graffiti or “tagging” (marking “territories”) o Origin in Philadelphia in the 1960s o Common in New York by the early 70s o Quickly moved from the streets to murals and subways o Became competitive; artists became (in)famous o Now, an international urban phenomenon  Fashion  Baggy clothes  Caps  Custom sneakers  Earrings; gold necklaces (“bling”)  Wearing of multiple rings  Large watches worn around neck  “Grillz”  “Shades”  Throwback jersys and “high end” sportswear (Nike, Adidas, etc.)  “Hoodies Section IV: The Geography of Language and Religion 02/10/2016 ▯ - The classification and distribution of languages - The classification and distribution of religions - Language and religion o The defining cornerstones of human “culture” and identity o Distinguish humans from all other species o Humans are genetically “hard-wired” for complex linguistic ability and self-consciousness  Noam Chomsky: “deep structure”; “universal grammar” o A map of religious and linguistic regions is in many ways a map of culture regions - Classification and distribution of languages o Defining language 1. Language: an organized system of spoken and/or written words 2. Words consist of symbols or a group of symbols put together to represent either a thing or an idea, depending on the writing system 3. Syllabic languages: symbols (e.g. “letters”) represent sounds 4. Ideographic languages: symbols (e.g. “ideographs”) represent an idea or a thing 5. Human language is unique with respect to other forms of animal communication in two important ways: a) Human languages are recombinant (words/symbols can be taken out of order in a sentence and recombined to communicate a very different or subtly different idea) b) Language formation is arbitrary with only a few exceptions (onomatopoeia, sound symbolism) 6. There are about 6,900 different languages spoken around the world today, but the vast majority are spoken by a relatively small number or people (i.e. a relatively small number of languages have millions of speakers) 7. About 94% of the world’s population speaks one of only 389 languages (6%) 8. The remaining 94% of languages are spoken by only 6% of the world’s people - The classification of languages 1. Proto-Language: an ancestral language from which several language families or languages are descended (e.g. Proto Indo-European spoken in eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus about 5,000 years ago) 2. Language Family: a group of languages descended from a single earlier language whose similarity cannot be the result of circumstance; when languages are shown to have a common ancestor, they are said to be cognate languages ▯ ▯ ▯


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