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Cultural Geography

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on 10 February 2016

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Transcript of Cultural Geography

Introduction to Cultural Geography
Goals for today:


- To think about the concept of culture, and its various meanings

- To understand why culture is geographical

- Begin to think about cultural difference and identity

What is culture, exactly?


Art, music, religion, food, consumption: can we call these things 'culture'?

Is culture defined by our values and identities?

Does culture reside in particular places?

What is culture, exactly?

Is it a 'thing' that acts upon human societies?

Is it an independent realm of power relations?

Is culture political?

Is there no such thing as culture?

Why are people interested in this thing called culture?


Intrinsic curiosity?

Desire to conquer?

A little of both?

Theorist William Sewell, Jr. suggests:

Culture is...


1. A system of symbols and meanings


2. A set of practices

Culture as system of symbols and set of practices


Complementary concepts

Engaging in cultural practice means using symbols

Cultural symbols mean nothing without practice




How do people articulate cultural symbols and practices?

What is cultural geography?



“For as long as humans have lived in groups and been aware of other human groups that share the earth with them, we can speculate that we have been interested in one another's customs and practices, and the differences in how different people interact with their environments.”

Oakes & Price, The Cultural Geography Reader

What is cultural geography?


“For as long as humans have lived in groups and been aware of other human groups that share the earth with them, we can speculate that we have been interested in one another's customs and practices, and the differences in how different people interact with their environments.”

Oakes & Price, The Cultural Geography Reader

Cultural geography questions



What are different peoples' lived experiences in place?

How do human systems of meaning shape geography?

What is geographical about culture?


- Cultural meanings and practices are communicated across space

- In some places, certain cultural symbols and practices may be marginalized or repressed

- In others, may be popular or dominant

- Culture shapes geography

Are cultures coherent? Meaning...

Logically consistent

Highly integrated

Consensual

Very resistant to change

Clearly bounded

Past social science studies thought of culture in tribal societies as coherent – an outdated approach that could be problematic

Contradictory

Contradictory

Workplace 'culture'

Loosely integrated

Freedom often thought of as a U.S., or western world cultural value...but it is highly contested

LGBTQ logo

Tea Party slogan

Contested

Cultural change in China

Mutable – subject to constant change

Geographical spread of Buddhism

Highly permeable – porous boundaries

Geographical spread of Christianity

Highly permeable, cont.

Cultures do not correspond neatly with national or societal boundaries

Each society, nation, or state contains overlapping cultural systems/practices

These cross all kinds of geographical boundaries

Some cultural systems/practices are repressed by nations or societies

Does culture cause conflicts over place? How?
What do these letters mean?

???
What cultural symbols are these people conveying...?!
How are 'cultural' conflicts also about territory and resources?
What cultural symbols represent you?

What practices are associated with those symbols?
These things we call "cultures" are more likely to be...

Contradictory
Loosely integrated
Contested
Mutable
Highly permeable

Which cultural values are acceptable in a given place? What will resolve conflicts over this question?
Full transcript