Release – Community Localized Location

World Regional Geography Book Series

This article scrutinizes both the long tradition of regional geography and the rise and key features of new regional geography. It aims to show how both the practice of making regional geography and regional geography as a theoretical enterprise have been deeply contested, and historically and geographically contingent. This disputability evinces the fact that both the practice of making and the discourses about regional geography have resulted from entangled societal and academic power relations. The likewise contested understanding of what the ‘region’ is has been part and parcel of these struggles. Due to these facts, the prime focus of this article is on methodological issues and, relatedly, in tracing how contested concepts of the region have been unfolded and utilized in geography.

Systematic geography generates theories to facilitate an understanding of regions, and regional geography is the proving ground where theories are rested empirically. The idea of the region provides the essential unifying theme that integrates the diverse subdisciplines of geography. The highest form of the geographer’s art is the production of evocative descriptions that facilitate an understanding and an appreciation of regions. Regional geography must be informed by a sense of time, and it cannot ignore the physical environment. It begins with the visible features of the earth’s surface, but quickly transcends them and attempts to understand the values that motivate the human behavior that is related to them. Exploration, or fieldwork, is a basic research technique in geography, and the most geographic hypotheses are generated by field observation and by cartographic analysis.

However, these interactions do contribute to economic stability in the periphery. Some argue that it benefits the core countries to keep the periphery peripheral; in other words, if the periphery can remain underdeveloped, they are more likely to sell cheap goods to the core. This generates more wealth for core areas and contributes to their continued influence and economic strength. Derived from the writings of the English economist, Alfred Marshall, in the early twentieth century, the term industrial district refers to highly specialized local areas based on networks of small firms. The districts of Central and Northeastern Italy attracted particular attention, becoming known as the ‘Third Italy’ .

East and South East Asia are merged into one chapter, they should be separate. The sub-sections are well chosen and easy to navigate between in the online version. The PDF version does have bookmarks by chapter, but could be improved by adding bookmarks to the sub-sections as well. Some chapters have a section with a key words like “Current, Modern, or Future” that suggests that section would be a natural place for updates on contemporary issues. However, other sub-sections also have topics that will require updating or adding new themes. I’m not sure exactly how to make that process easy in the future, but I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

The first known use of the word geography was by Eratosthenes of Cyrene (modern-day Libya in North Africa), an early Greek scholar who lived between 276 and 194 BCE. He devised one of the first systems of longitude and latitude and calculated the earth’s circumference. Additionally, he created one of the first maps of the world based on the available knowledge of the time. Around the same time, many ancient cultures in China, southern Asia, Polynesia, and the Arabian Peninsula also developed maps and navigation systems used in geography and cartography.

Is the pendulum of geography now swinging back, not to a regional geography of “capes and bays” variety but to one that is “problem-oriented”? If this is so, perhaps geographers will again be ready to use terms such as “region” and “regional” which might otherwise become the preserve of economists and planners. As countries industrialize and become more developed, they shift from primarily rural settlements to urban ones.

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