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Department of Geography Coursework Submission Form

By ticking the box I declare that: i) I have read the Universitys regulations regarding plagiarism and understand what they mean; ii) this work is entirely my own except for those parts duly identified and referenced; and iii) this work is within the specified word limit and complies with all regulations specified by the Department. Student number: 129043019 Module number: GY2152 Number of words: Academic tutor (Year 1) or Dissertation supervisor: Date & time due in:[ Click to enter date] Time: 11:00 Date and time submitted:[ Click to enter date] Time: 00:01 Module title: Social and Cultural Geography Coursework title: Analyse how cultural geographers approaches to landscape has developed since the early twentieth century Coursework description and number: CW2 (ERASMUS/Study Abroad) Please review my accessibility cover sheet (tick box): (Staff use only) I confirm I have reviewed the relevant cover sheet (tick box):

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Criteria Answer to the question (understanding of key issues, appropriateness of conclusions) Structure of argument (organisation, focus, coherence, logic) Use of literature and other information (range, appropriateness, effectiveness in supporting arguments, accuracy of citations, format Writing quality (Spelling, grammar, punctuation, paragraphing, general fluency Originality (Creativity, reflective, thought provoking) Presentation (Quality, effective use of illustrative materials, absence of typing errors)



The best features: This essay demonstrates a good understanding of the Berkeley School of cultural geography and offers a critical evaluation of its strengths and limitations (relative to the geographical work that preceded it). Despite an interesting discussion of Tim Ingolds work, the rest of the essay fails to describe and evaluation subsequent trends in (Anglophone) cultural geography in the same depth. Although there is evidence of some independent reading, this is limited in scope and volume. Although the best elements of this essay warrant a 2i grade, overall the essay lacks breadth and depth of analysis and suffers from an uneven structure that does not fully answer the question. As a result, a lower grade classification has been awarded. Suggestions for improvement:
1) This essay needed a stronger introduction setting out the key arguments and structure of the essay; and, a more extensive conclusion 2) We expect students to cite more than three pieces of work in essays you needed to demonstrate greater evidence of independent reading 3) The structure of the essay was unbalanced you spent a lot of time discussing the Berkley School, but gave relatively little attention to the core arguments associated with the cultural turn in the 1980s or more recent (more-thanrepresentational) cultural geographies. A more balanced discussion of these trends would have led to a stronger essay

Marked by: gpb10

Provisional mark before any penalties (eg. Lateness, academic practice) 58


Analyse how cultural geographers' approaches to landscape have developed since the early twentieth century.
The new branch of cultural geography was developed at the beginning of the twentieth century in the United States, precisely by geographers in the Berkeley School at the University of California led by Carl O. Sauer. American geography of the previous generation was dominated by environmental determinism and environmental possibilism that basically disagreed about what produced variations in cultures and what should be investigated to explain these differences. The notion of environmental determinism was adopted by geographers, such as Ellen Churchill Semple, Ellsworth Huntington, and Thomas Griffith Taylor, to explain variation in human culture in different places. They believed that psychological mind-set of individuals and the culture of the society they lived in was shaped by environment and influenced by physical geography, particularly climate. Their hypothesis followed that between the latitude of an environment and the civilisation of the human culture that inhabited it a direct relationship could be identified. For example, the weather of the middle latitudes, subject to frequent variability led to more determined and focused work ethics, while tropical climates were said to cause laziness, relaxed attitudes and promiscuity. It is important to take in consideration that this thesis developed during the period of colonialism, deriving their position from the Darwinian Theory that the natural conditions played a determining role in non-human species adaptation and survival. Environmental determinism gained popularity because of the political dimension, it was a moral justification to the project of

colonisation, due to the relative superiority of western culture compared with less civilised inhabitants of newly discovered places.1 On the opposite, environmental possibilism theorised that cultural variations were not only determined by environmental factors but also influenced by social conditions. Environments offered multiple possibilities of evolution, from this perspective humans were considered active agents creating their own cultures and consequently shaping their environments. As a result, environmental possibilism was a fundamentally descriptive cultural geography which involved a return to the empiricist documenting cataloguing of the era of exploration in order to establish the level of variances and similarities between particular cultures in different places. These two tendencies have, thus, a directly opposed approach to geographical knowledge: determinism considered the environment as the only cultural agent, based their studies on global geographical scale and legitimised an imperialistic political ending. On the other hand, possibilist geographers believed that were both environment and people to produce variations in cultures, they thought that the geographical scale that should be investigate to explain these differences was local and politically were closer to the mutual aid and cooperation ideas of the Russian geographer Kropotkin.2 Carl O. Sauer, a human geographer, refused the position of the previous deterministic orientation of geography and, akin to the possibilist geographers of Europe, reassert the importance of empiricist documentation of cultures. In fact, Sauer believed that geography should be investigated through a chorological cataloguing3 of areal facts. He led cultural geography back to fieldwork study, recording

Anderson, J., The History of Cultural Geography, [Chapter 2] in Anderson, J. (2010) Understanding Cultural Geography: Places and Traces, London: Routledge. pp. 16-17 2 Ibid., p.18 3 The study of the causal relations between geographical phenomena occurring within a particular region through the documentation of cultural difference and distribution.

specific objects and associating them with particular regions and cultural activities. In Sauers own words: Underlying what I am trying to say is the conviction that geography is the first of all knowledge gained by observation.4 Sauers new type of cultural geography has an anthropological starting point influenced by the work of Frank Boas and Alfred Kroeber. He formed a branch of discipline focused on cultural groups and their geographical spread, differentiating them by the material artefacts they produced within and from the cultural landscape around them. Here is the turning point of Sauers theory: he argued that the task was to describe the morphology of a given landscape as the principal mean to reveal and explain the characteristics and the effectivity of the human cultures that inhabited it. The relationship between environment and culture was to be found in the study of the landscape itself in order to read off the cultures that inhabited it. His attention was drawn to the cultural landscape5 intended as a natural landscape subjected to transformations at the hands of man. Sauers own definition is: The cultural landscape is fashioned from a natural landscape by a cultural group. Culture is the agent, the natural area is the medium, and the cultural landscape is the result."6 Considering the human factor as the most important factor influencing the morphology of any place the relationship between culture and landscape was reversed. Cultural geography was to be intended the story of how human beings have transformed the earth.

Sauer Carl O. (1963), in Anderson, J., The History of Cultural Geography, [Chapter 2] in Anderson, J. (2010) Understanding Cultural Geography: Places and Traces, London: Routledge. P. 19 5 The geographer Otto Schlter is credited with having first formally used cultural landscape as an academic term in 1908. He defined two forms of landscape: the Urlandschaft (transl. original landscape) or landscape that existed before major human induced changes and the Kulturlandschaft (transl. 'cultural landscape') a landscape created by human culture.

Sauer Carl O., The Morphology of Landscape, University of California Publications in Geography, Number 22, (1925),

pp. 19-53

Sauer postulated that landscapes should be understood as palimpsests7, identifying the dynamical nature of geographical sites. In fact, he noted that every generation modifies the landscape imposing his products and cultural artefacts on the ones of the past. For example, in the city of Rome in Italy the remains of multiple periods of time can be identified, from building of ancient roman period to nineteenth-century civic buildings, passing through medieval and eighteenth-century churches and palaces. In doing so he got aware of the environmentally destructive force of industrial cultures and was led to concentrate his studies on more rural and less civilised landscapes. This predisposition led him and his colleagues to focus their attention on more historical landscapes where the culturelandscape relations could more easily be found. The Berkeley school, therefore, preferred to set their studies on folk and antiquated cultures and on landscapes free from urbanization. Sauers cultural geography, investigating on empiricist fieldwork and documenting the material artefacts produced by a specific culture, revealed the transformation of natural landscapes in cultural ones tracing their historical progression. This American branch of the discipline focused more on artefacts and the products of culture rather than the process that generated them. Here a thorny question arises: if the agent causing variations on human products was culture there was the need to define what culture was. Sauer had an heuristic use of the term culture and never gave a clear definition, while his anthropological antecedents, like Kroeber and Boas, considered it as super organic in nature, as something that existed independently of

Surfaces showing presence and passing of cultural groups through what they built up over time.

human beings. A super organic conception of culture, though, leads to the risk to legitimate the deterministic role of environment that Sauer had in strong antipathy.8 Sauers lack of proper explanation on how culture can be defined provoked internal debates within the discipline of geography. In the eighties UK scholars such as Jackson, Duncan and Cosgrove considered it logical to investigate what culture actually constituted and led human geography to a cultural turn. In the nineties the cultural anthropologist Tim Ingold puts forward a series of criticism to the definition of landscape as a cultural image. This is because it just opposes the symbolic landscape, a set of disembodied cultural meanings, to a physical landscape onto which cultural meaning is projected. The definition of landscape as a cultural image assumes the distinction between the idea of culture and that of nature. He underlines the commonplace assumption that the world may be divided in cultural (human) and natural elements. The division between natural and cultural is a piercing matter for both geography (human and cultural) and anthropology. He argues that the term cultural covers an extended range of sciences and interpretative methodologies. It is worth to remind that the unsolved question of the meaning of culture led to the cultural turn in human geography. Inspired by the thesis in Clifford Geertzs The Interpretation of Cultures (1973), he claims that culture has to be seen as a natural element of humanity. In fact, nature and culture should be considered as interdepending on each other and not as opposite. Generation after generation culture has gained a central role in helping the evolution of cultural groups through the direct transmission of knowledge and artefacts. Landscape, intended in

Anderson, J., The History of Cultural Geography, [Chapter 2] in Anderson, J. (2010) Understanding Cultural Geography: Places and Traces, London: Routledge. pp. 19-24

morphological and climatic way, shaped and was shaped by human groups and the culture they created and preserved. 9 Since the twentieth century the concept of cultural landscapes has been variously applied, debated, developed and refined within geographical discipline. In conclusion it can be asserted that any system of interaction between a groups human activity and agency and his own natural habitat can be regarded as a cultural landscape, taking also in consideration all the practices, beliefs and traditions of people living within it.

Anderson, J., The History of Cultural Geography, [Chapter 2] in Anderson, J. (2010) Understanding
Cultural Geography: Places and Traces, London: Routledge.

Sauer Carl O., The Morphology of Landscape, University of California Publications in Geography, Number 22, (1925).

Wylie J., Landscape, (London: Routledge 2007).

Wylie J., Landscape, (London: Routledge 2007), pp. 154-156