critical geography

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The umbrella term for a group of geographical concepts and procedures that are centred on opposition to repressive and inequitable power relations in: capitalism, class, colonialism, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexuality. Critical geographers stress the role of dominance and confrontation in the production and reproduction of landscape, place, and space: see, for example, Thompson-Fawcett and Bond (2003) Prog. Plan. 60, 2 on the urbanist discourse.

Although Blomley (2007) PHG31, 1 judges that critical geography has become deeply entrenched within the academy, many share Cloke's frustration with ‘our apparent inability to retain a critical political edge in human geography’ (2002, PHG26). For Baeten (2002, Geografiskal B 3–4), urban geography ‘fails to crystallize in a convincing political project that would provide a credible alternative for the poverty-generating capitalist shaping of today's city’. However, Peck and Wills(2000) Antipode 32, 1–3 note that being radical in the late 1960s ‘involved a very different cluster of beliefs, ideas and affiliations than might be expected today’. Mitchell (2000) 2nd Int. Crit. Geog. Conf. 2 argues that critical geography should be ‘for people, not just ourselves’. Oberhauser (2007) AAAG97, 2 judges C. Katz (2004) as ‘a model for research in critical geography’. See Simonsen (2004) Geoforum 35, 5 and Blomley (2008) PHG32, 2 for reviews of this sub-discipline; see also Oswin (2008) PHG32, 1. Unwin's words (2000, TIBG25, 1) are inspirational: ‘A critical geography needs to engage with the everyday practices of all of us who live in the places that we do; it needs to focus on the needs and interests of the poor and the underprivileged; it remains a very modern enterprise, retaining a belief that it is possible to make the world a “better” place.’

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography.

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