Study Questions: Chapter 1
1. What are the core tools and methods that geographers have used to contextualize knowledge throughout the history of the discipline?
Geographers rely on description and the gathering of facts. Following the Greek tradition in the classical period, geographers follow the literary tradition using written description as well as the mathematical tradition in the form of maps.
2. How did the descriptions by early Chinese geographers differ from those of early European geographers and why?
Chinese geographers integrated descriptions of people and physical landscapes, whereas early European geographers typically described physical and human landscapes separately. This difference is due to the Chinese understanding of Confucianism which views the individual as part of nature, and the European following of Christianity, which views the individual as separate from nature.
3. What are some of the key differences between when and how Chinese and European civilizations made, diffused, and used maps?
The first map makers in China were civil servants, and maps were used to assert the state’s ownership rights over land. Printing technology was used in the reproduction of maps in China as early as 1155. Maps in China were also used for exploration, and it is thought that China “discovered” North America in 1421, 70 years prior to Columbus. Europeans did not adopt printing technology for a more rapid diffusion of maps until 1472. Europeans also used maps for exploration, and “discovered” North American in 1492. It was not until the 1800s that governments took responsibility for map making and keeping by establishing geographical societies.
4. What is the difference between “environmental determinism” and “possibilism”?
Environmental determinism is the understanding that the physical landscape is a core factor affecting the development of human activities, such as human cultures and landscapes. Meanwhile, possibilism is the perspective that human activity is determined by the choices people make, and these choices affect the physical landscape in which they live. Possibilism is the perspective of the landscape school of thought in geography.
5. What are some of the new components that have been incorporated into contemporary geography perspectives and subjects of analysis?