I was thinking today about books by geographers, written in the last thirty years or so, that would stand as real testaments to what the discipline is about or what it can do. By this I’m meaning something other than textbooks, edited books, collections of essays by a single author, companions, etc., but ones that really make a statement of purpose, that were many years in the making, etc. If I was coming up with just such a list in history, politics, philosophy, sociology, I think I’d have many more to chose from. By this I don’t mean that geographers don’t write books (which has been suggested) because I think that is demonstrably false. Rather I’m interested in what kinds of books geographers write, and why. There are a lot of good books being written by geographers – in the Royal Geographical Society or Antipode book series with Wiley-Blackwell, for instance – but I’m looking for something a bit more than that. The sorts of books I’m thinking of include
David Harvey, The Limits to Capital (Blackwell, 1982)
Doreen Massey, Spatial Divisions of Labour (Macmillan, 1984)
David Livingstone, The Geographical Tradition (Blackwell, 1992)
Derek Gregory, Geographical Imaginations (Blackwell, 1994)
Neil Smith, American Empire (U California Press, 2003)
Chris Philo, The Space Reserved for Insanity (Edwin Mellon, 2004)
Gunnar Olsson, Abysmal: A Critique of Cartographic Reason (U Chicago Press, 2007)
Charles Withers, Placing the Enlightenment: Thinking Geographically about the Age of Reason (U Chicago Press, 2007).
That sort of thing. Note that here I’m including particular books by people who are perhaps better known for other books – Derek Gregory for The Colonial Present; David Harvey for The Condition of Postmodernity or Social Justice and the City, for example – but these are the ones, for me, that are the most ambitious. There is some overlap with the books that are discussed in Key Texts in Human Geography, but I think what I’m looking for is a bit more specific. Comments would be welcomed.