Ambitious Geography Books

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.

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10 Responses to Ambitious Geography Books

  1. kai says:

    hmm, I do like Hybrid Geographies quite a bit, and Geographical Imaginations might make my list as well…

  2. Pulci says:

    Tuan, Yi-Fu’s – Space and Place
    Edward Soja – Postmodern Geographies
    Gillian Rose – Feminism & Geography
    Friedrich Ratzel – Lebensraum (!)

  3. christianabrahamsson says:

    My list would include these books though I would also include most of the books on your list. It is almost criminal that some of these books aren’t available in translation. My guess is that it would be a completely different story in another discipline.

    Augustin Berque, Le Sauvage et l’artifice: les Japonais devant la nature. Paris: Gallimard, 1986.
    Franco Farinelli, Geografia: Un’introduzione ai modelli del mondo. Torino: Einaudi, 2003.
    Lucio Gambi, Una geografia per la storia. Torino: Einaudi, 1973.
    Clarence Glacken Traces on the Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century
    Torsten Hägerstrand Innovation Diffusion as a Spatial Process
    Yves Lacoste, La géographie, ça sert, d’abord, à faire la guerre. Paris: Maspero, 1976
    Jacques Lévy, Le tournant géographique. Paris: Belin, 1998.
    David Harvey Explanation in Geography
    Gunnar Olsson Birds in Egg/Eggs in Bird. London: Pion, 1980.
    Allan Pred Place, practice, and structure: social and spatial transformation in southern Sweden, 1750-1850
    Claude Raffestin, Pour une géographie du pouvoir. Paris: Librairies techniques, 1980.
    Milton Santos, L’espace partagé: Les deux circuits de l’économie urbaine des pays sous- développés. Paris: Génin, 1975.
    Erik Wallin, Vardagslivets generativa grammatik – vid gränsen mellan natur och kultur. Lund: Gleerup, 1980.
    Paul Wheatley From Court to Capital: a tentative interpretation of the origins of the Japanese urban tradition

  4. Pingback: Ambitious Geography Books | Progressive Geographies | Black Africa

  5. Paul Ennis says:

    Well I might be of some use here as a non-geographer in that the only book mentioned that I have read is Tuan’s ‘Space and Place.’ In fact I’d consider Tuan more ambitious in his thinking than most philosophers (in a good sense).

  6. Pingback: Ambitious Geography Books | Progressive Geographies | Conteúdo Original

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  9. tjcresswell says:

    Food for thought – gave it a go myself…

  10. Pingback: Tim Cresswell’s ‘Great Books’ | Progressive Geographies

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