Culture and Human Geography Using human characteristics to understand the Earth… and vice versa Culture, What is it? A hundred years of anthropologists can’t agree exactly: Herskovits: contributions of humans to the environment Harris: emphasized learned behaviors * E. Adamson Hoebel: system of learned behavior patterns that are NOT instinctive and passed down. Expanded by C. Geertz “The Interpretations of Cultures” Components of Culture: 1. 2. 3. 4. Culture trait: a single attribute of a culture (ex. wearing a turban) Culture complex: the particular combination of culture traits unique to a certain culture Culture system: culture complexes with many common traits are grouped together Culture Region: area within which a particular culture system prevails More components of Culture Geographic regions: often synonymous with “culture region”… cultural as well as locational and environmental circumstances factor too. Culture realm: an assemblage of culture/geographic regions (ex. “Subsaharan Africa,” “Middle East”) aka “geographic realms” Culture hearth: the origin of a culture group Structure of Culture Regions: Core: The zone of greatest concentration or homogeneity of the culture traits that characterize a region. Domain: The area outside of the core of a culture region in which the culture is still dominant but less intense. Periphery/Sphere: The zone of outer influence for a culture region. Also an area of inter-mixing. Where do Cultures Come From? Cultural Ecology: the geographic study of human-environment relationships *Alexander von Humboldt, Carl Ritter (1800s) suggested that scientific study of social and natural processes is fundamentally the same. Applying laws from natural science to understand human actions Environmental Determinism: the physical environment CAUSES social development Followers of Environmental Determinism: Freidrich Ratzel (1844-1904) Ellen Churchill Semple (1863-1932) Ellsworth Huntington (1876-1947): argued that CLIMATE was a prime determining factor in the success and development of a society. The New Approach: Possibilism: the thought that the physical environment may limit some human actions, but people have the ability to adjust to their environments. * People give the physical environment cultural value and meaning by regarding it as a collection of resources. ex: pairing crops with local climate (choice) * Remember, Possibilists DO believe the environment plays a role in shaping culture, just not 100% Environmental Pressures on Cultural Development: Climate Vegetation Soil Landforms Climate: the long-term average weather condition at a particular location * Vladimir Koppen: (Koppen System) divides the world into 5 main climate regions: 1. Tropical 2. Dry How does Climate effect the development of human 3. Warm Mid-Latitude systems? 4. Cold Mid-Latitude 5. Polar World Climate Zones Vegetation: plantlife covers nearly the 1. entire land surface of Earth. Earth’s land vegetation includes 4 major forms of plant communities called biomes Forest biome Savanna biome How does Vegetation effect the development of human systems? Grassland biome Desert biome 2. 3. 4. World Vegetation Biomes Soils: the material that forms on the • • Earth’s surface, is the thin interface between the air and the rock. Soil is divided into 12 “Orders” according to varying characteristics. The orders are subdivided several times. There are over 12,000 in the US alone. Some are concerned about physical processes and human actions that are destroying soils. Erosion How do Soils effect the Nutrients development of human systems? Landforms: Earth’s surface features. Range from relatively flat to mountainous. “Geomorphology” the study of Earth’s landforms. Helps to explain the distribution of people, choice of economic activities at different locations. *topographic maps “topos” *relief: difference in elevation between 2 points *slope: measures the steepness How would landforms effect the development of human systems? Spatial Analysis and Cultural Development: Spatial Analysis deals with: 1.Location 2.Distance 3.Space 4.Accessibility 5.Spatial Interaction * Lets look at how each of these concepts of space impact human systems, starting with location (review). Location: Impact on Human Systems/Culture Absolute: latitude, longitude, GPS… *Relative: -Site: the physical attributes of a location; its terrain, soil, vegetation, water, etc… -Situation: location of a place relative to other places and human activities: accessibility to routeways… nearness… centrality Distance: Impact on Human Systems/Culture Absolute: physical measurement Relative: expressed in terms of time, effort, or cost Cognitive distance: the distance that people perceive to exist in a give situation. Friction of Distance: the time and cost of overcoming distance (NOT a constant) Distance-decay function: the rate at which a particular activity or phenomenon diminishes with increasing distance… reflects people’s behavioral response to opportunities and constraints in time and space… “utility”, or usefulness to a particular person or group Space: Impact on Human Systems/Culture Absolute space: mathematical, described through points, lines, areas, planes, and relationships… Topological Space: the connections between, or connectivity of, particular points in space… not a measure of distance, but of connectivity between locations. Relative space: take the form of socioeconomic space or of cultural space. Socioeconomic space is described in terms of sites, situations, routes, regions, and distribution patterns…measured through time, cost, profit, production, as well as physical distance. Space, continued Cognitive Space: measured in terms of people’s values, feelings, beliefs, and perceptions about locations, districts, regions, so therefore can be described in terms of behavioral space – landmarks, paths, environments, and spatial layouts Accessibility: Impact on Human Systems/Culture Accessibility: generally defined in terms of relative location: the opportunity for contact or interaction from a given point or location in relation to other locations. It implies proximity, or nearness, to something. Because it is a fundamental influence on the utility of locations, distance is an important influence on people’s behavior. *Distance is one aspect of accessibility, but not the only important aspect. *Connectivity is also important to accessibility because contact and interaction are dependent on channels of communication and transport, so accessibility also relies on the configuration of networks of comm. and trans. Accessibility cont. Accessibility is often a function of economic, cultural, and social factors. In other words, relative concepts and measures of distance are often as important as absolute distance. Spatial Interaction: Impact on Human Systems/Cultures 1. 2. 3. 4. Spatial Interaction: refers to Movement and flows involving human activity. Can be reduced to 4 basic preconditions for interdependence between places: Complementarity Transferability Intervening Opportunity Spatial Diffusion Complimentarity (precondition for interdependence between places) For any kind of spatial interaction to occur between two places, there must be a demand in one place and a supply that matches, or complements, it in the other. -natural resource endowments -international division of labor -economies of scale: economic advantages through specialization allows for larger scale operations = average cost of production to fall with increasing output = cheaper product = complimentarity Transferability (precondition for interdependence between places) Depends on the ‘frictional’ or deterrent effects of distance. Transferability is a function of two things: the cost of moving a particular item, and the ability of the item to bear these costs. -if the cost of moving a product is more than the profit sold at its destination, that product does not have transferability. -transferability varies between places, items, modes of transport and comm. (coal vs fruit) infrastructure Transferability cont. Transferability also varies over TIME as successive innovations in transport and comm. tech development alter the geography of transport cost = Time-space convergence: the rate at which places move closer together in trans. or comm. time costs (“shrinking world” effect) The result is a reduction in the friction of distance as new tech and infrastructure improvements successfully reduce transport and comm. time between places Time-space convergence “shrinks” the world. Intervening Opportunity (volume and pattern of movement between places) While complementarity and transferability are preconditions for spatial interaction, intervening opportunities are more important in determining the volume and pattern of movements and flows. Intervening opportunities are simply alternative origins and/or destinations. - Creates competition for goods, services, and interaction in general Spatial/Cultural Diffusion Disease outbreaks, tech innovations, political movements, and new music fads all originate in specific places and spread to other places and regions. The way that things spread through space and over time (diffusion) is one of the most important aspects of spatial interaction and is crucial to an understanding of geographic change. How diffusion takes place: Relocation diffusion What is independent invention? Expansion diffusion -hierarchical diffusion -contagious diffusion -stimulus diffusion Relocation Diffusion The spread of an idea through physical movement of people from one place to another. They have adopted the innovation/idea and move it with them. - ex: spread of languages Acculturation: less dominant culture adopts some traits Assimilation: less dominant culture adopts most traits and become indistinguishable from other Transculturation: cultures of equal dominance acting on one another equally Migrant diffusion: an innovation starts in one place, spreads, but begins to die out in its origin/hearth Expansion Diffusion Expansion diffusion takes place through populations that are stable and fixed. It is the innovation, the idea, or the disease that does the moving. 1. Hierarchical Diffusion The spread of an idea from persons or nodes of authority or power to other persons or places. - ex: important/powerful/popular people to the masses -ex: important/powerful/influential places outward… ex: Hip Hop music The Burka is an example of hierarchal diffusion 2. Contagious Diffusion The rapid, widespread diffusion of a characteristic throughout a population…the way a disease moves like a wave without regard for hierarchy and without requiring permanent relocation of people. - ex: “viral videos” - ex: an actual virus Dr. John Snow: Father of Modern Epidemiology 1850s Cholera outbreak in London Used principles of Geography and Contagious Diffusion to track down the source of the outbreak and stop the highly contagious disease’s spread/diffusion. He carefully mapped the deaths and the pumps that families used for their drinking water. The data led him to the Broad Street pump head. Dr. John Snow 1850s Cholera Outbreak in London 3. Stimulus Diffusion The spread of an underlying principle, even though a characteristic itself apparently fails to diffuse. - ex: Macintosh Apple vs. IBM DOS Key Topics in Cultural Geography Cultural Landscape: the imprint cultures leave on the physical environment Culture Hearths: the origin, the center Cultural Diffusion: we just covered that Cultural Perception: how a place or culture is seen to be… perception IS reality Cultural Environments: how environment plays a role in cultural development… we coved that (environmental determinism vs possibilism…remember?) Ok, don’t forget our types of regions: Formal Region: An area of near uniformity (homogeneity) in one or several characteristics. Sometimes defined properly! Functional Region: A region created by the interactions between a central node and surrounding locations. Perceptual Region:An area defined by subjective perceptions that reflect the feelings and images about key place characteristics. When these perceptions come from the local, ordinary folk, a perceptual region can be called a vernacular region.