Boundaries of the discipline of geography

Stuart Elden posted this story, which tracks word in the tile of over 10,000 dissertations in geography in an attempt to highlight trends in the field. As someone who is not from a geography department but who relies on much of the work conducted therein, I find this particularly interesting. The story itself and the graphics are revealing, but I feel even more compelled to note one of the ‘minor voices’ from the comments section, which asserts:

“David Harvey is a verbose social theoretician who has not done any work in geography in more than four decades. It’s been all Marxism all the time since about 1971. He never has published any empirical studies using statistical analyses. He just offered jabs at others’ work. He’s not even employed in a geography faculty anymore, having self-deported to the Anthropology department at the CUNY graduate center.

Harvey’s career is a manifestation of the feebleness of geography as a discipline.

Pick your territory and advance an understanding of social life within that territory. Leave natural science to natural scientists, leave business journalism to reporters, and leave Marxism to a few museum pieces in the sociology department.”

I may not be all that internet savvy, but I know a “troll” writing under a pseudonym when I encounter one. However, it is actually troubling to imagine this sort of adolescent whining emanating from an actual department, especially for those of us who are standing in the wings, and trying to find a way to share the ideas that we have accumulated by taking our own curving paths. I too am confused as to why geography has fluvial morphologists (or whatever…) down the hall from the Gramscians, why the AAG is so overwhelmingly huge, etc., but have no patience for attempts to only create silos when so much can also be added from people who dare to work at the margins.

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