The space surrounding people, in every diversified meaning of the word “space”, can be considered topographically non-uniformed. There are rises, overcoming which demands exponentially increasing efforts. Along with these rises each following step demands greater expenses – forces, time, energy, mind or simply material resources. During any moment of such rise, there is a situation when it is impossible to go further and at this point of balance the person stops. The set of similar points, beyond which it is impossible to advance, forms the human horizon, and the same points shape the definiteness of human culture. The culture, first of all, is a memory of human activities’ past, along with the stages of development of these activities. Human institutions were begotten not only by logic, but also by history, and the borders of the stages of history have arisen, first of all, because human activities have come upon the limits of their capabilities diversified by geography as a matter of place. In this context, this paper addresses the mutual relation between space, place and culture, according to the analysis of the book “Introducing Cultural Studies”(Longhurst et al., 2008) which states that geography of culture is an important aspect of culture which cannot be understood outside the spaces it marks out along with providing certain issues that should be considered in the so-called cultural geography.
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In “Introducing Cultural Studies”, specifically in chapter five, the concept of cultural geography was introduced. The main idea of the chapter is to present an overview provided with examples and studies from other works on how geography as a space and place shaped the culture throughout history. The author provides an analysis of the concept of the new cultural geography through three basic positions:
- Cultural geography is a study of how meanings made by people relate to questions of space, place and landscape as a result of the interaction.
- Cultural geography is concerned about who made these meanings which are of power and resistance.
- Cultural geography is concerned about how these meanings are represented.
The previous positions were analyzed through the chapter by applying them to different forms such as landscape representation, national identity and orientalism, using concepts such as discourse – the frameworks that define the possibilities of knowledge, as a set of rules which determine what criteria for the truth are.” (p.120)
The overview of cultural geography as a study of propositions and analysis of points of criticism had concluded that interpretations through cultural geography “renewed the sense of the importance of questions of space and place across cultural studies.” (p.139)
The key argument stated by the author is that the question of representation presented within the three basic propositions of the “new” cultural geography, has been the basis of many works which studied meaning and power investigating spaces, places and landscapes. These studies made assumptions that were questioned in terms of material culture and nature. (p. 110)
The authors provide support that cultural geography is not a matter only of static places, but also a matter of mobility where it would develop a different “geography of culture that is one of the networks, webs and journeys rather than of places, territories and fixed positions.”(p.125) The author delivers the arguments of James Clifford who states that geography, as well as anthropology, has been “far more concerned with ‘dwelling’ than with traveling”, and thus a large portion of studies have been missed. Another issue in cultural geography is the missing of other activities when focused on representation. “Cultural geographers are increasingly interested in questions of emotion and affect; in neglected senses such
as smell, taste and hearing; in theatre and dance; and in everyday movements, gestures and practices.” (p.132) The last issue with the new cultural geography is the required return to analyze the interaction between people and the material world, as a matter of “meaningful relationships between people”. (p.135)
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Cultural geography has presented as vital aspects in other works which address similar issues, where there is an agreement that some of the aspects were missed and other traditionally centered. “For ‘the most penetrating criticisms of traditional cultural geography have centered on its neglect of issues examined habitually by [other] social scientists’, including questions of power, inequality, gender, class, and race. (Jackson 1994, p.25) In terms of mobility Sibley provides arguments stating that “there are now many ‘non-places’ solely associated with the accelerated flow of people and goods around the world that do not act as localized sites for the celebration of ‘real’ cultures”(Sibley, 2003).
A distinction between place and space, terms that were somewhat interchangeably used in “In traducing cultural studies”, were defined where place is more of a face-to-face encounters and space is marked by the relations between absent others (Barker and Willis, 2003. Additionally the role of landscapes as key factor in studying cultural geography is focused merely as background in the analyzed book is supported in other works. Sauer, for instance, appealed to the idea of geography initially as “configurations of land and life” (Crang, 1998), thus the idea of interaction in the new cultural geography could be related to that matter. In assessing the idea of space in “Cultural Geography a Critical introduction”, geography along with cultural studies, “stresses space, understanding culture to be constituted through space and as space”(Mitchell, 2003).
It could be seen that the ideas presented in “Introducing Cultural Studies” are mainly concerned with issues that of criticism, related to the ‘new’ cultural geography, where in doing so the author provided arguments that support his criticism. However, it could be seen that mainly the aspect of geography with key elements of space and place where mostly reduced to cultural issues. Nevertheless, the work presented an extensive overview of the theoretical background of this field, which can be used mostly in the context of culture rather than cultural geography. It could be said that until the present time, a generally accepted definition of cultural geography has not been presented, moreover, a departure from clarification of subject to listing main question and themes could be witnessed.
- BARKER, C. & WILLIS, P. (2003) Cultural Studies, SAGE.
- CRANG, M. (1998) Cultural Geography, Routledge.
- Jackson, P. (1994) Maps of Meaning: An Introduction to Cultural Geography. New York: Routledge.
- LONGHURST, B., BAGNALL, G., SMITH, G., CRAWFORD, G., MCCRACKEN, S., OGBORN, M. & BALDWIN, E. (2008) Topographies of Culture: Geography, Meaning and Power. Introducing Cultural Studies. Pearson Education.
- LEWIS, J. (2002) Cultural Studies: The Basics, Sage.
- MITCHELL, D. (2003) Cultural Geography a Critical Introduction, Blackwell Publishing.
- SIBLEY, D. (2003) Cultural Geography: A Critical Dictionary of Key Ideas, I.B.Tauris.