Friday, December 21, 2012

"Geographies": A Warning Term

A Catholicgauze rant.

In the past, up until the late 1980s, the term "geographies" was little used anywhere.  It was used simply as a plural term for "geography".  One could write about the "geographies" of New Zealand and Australia meaning just the geography of New Zealand and the geography of Australia.  However, many thought there was no need to make "geography" plural so the term "geographies" was rare.

An Ngram searched revealed that "geographies" as a term was reinvented in the late 1980s
However, starting in the late 1980s and surging in the 1990s, the term "geographies" was hijacked.  A coalition of "post-modern", "critical", openly Marxist, and other schools of leftist academia took the word "geographies" as one of their own.

No standard definitions of "geographies" exists, not even in academic geographic dictionaries.  What can be accepted though is that due to the hard left nature of the new "geographies"-users its usage is limited to human and barely used, if at all, in physical geography.  A basic understanding is that "geographies" claims there is no objective, unified truth combined with heavy usage of sociology.  An example would be that for City X, homosexuals, feminists, homeless, migrants, and rich all experience and "feel" the urban area differently.  One group's "geography" is then combined with other's to create a "geographies of City X".

Further, the "geographies"-using leftist geographers tend to advocate for somesort of change, "activist geographies", with their studies.  Further, due to the merging of hardcore leftism in academia many times the very geographic nature of some "geographies" project is in question.  For example, the emotional geographies conference has this blurb on their website about their upcoming conference

this fourth conference provides a forum for a range of people from different disciplinary backgrounds as well as societal partners and artists to creatively explore the role of emotion in thinking about and experiencing space and society.

All this has lead to me treating "geographies" as different from traditional geography and one of the main reasons there is such a disconnect between geographic studies/geography and academic geographers.  The main book on globalization "Commanding Heights" had no input from any geographer.  Try to name recent a mainstream/popular/impactful book by an academic geographer who uses the term "geographies".  I dare you.

For examples of these "geographies" which I dislike so much check out these posts Geographies of Feminist ArtFourth International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional GeographiesCommunifesto for Fuller Geographies: Towards Mutual Security’Urban Uprising/Re-imagining the City, Critical Geography Forum, and David "Most cited geographer ever in academia" Harvey's Reading Marx's Capital.

Note:  There has been a trend by some younger geographers to use the term "geographies" just  because older academics use the term.  These younger geographers sometimes lack political motive in their "geographies" studies.


Andy said...

I am a pastor with an undergrad in geography. Wouldn't you agree that a Christian has a different geography than a non theist? I do agree that the postmodern influence on geography makes it almost unreadable.

Catholicgauze said...

No, I do not. They may value different things and may consider different things as truth but that's not geography.