Cultural turn

Sophia Maalsen*, Jessica McLean

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary/reference book

1 Citation (Scopus)


The cultural turn in Geography is generally associated with a particular turn to culture as an object of study by geographers in the 1980s and the associated rise in cultural studies more broadly; however, geography's relationship to culture has a much longer history of turns and returns. From the classic cultural geography of the early 20th Century to the more-than-human cultural geography of the 21st Century, geography's engagements with culture are reflective of broader political, epistemological, ethical, and methodological shifts. In this article we critique the notion of a “turn” and what it means in and for geography by tracing the cycles of geographical thought that has “turned” to culture and by questioning whose culture is actually turned to in that process. We argue that current and future cultural geographies need to be inclusive of multiple knowledges, particularly those of Indigenous voices and more-than-human actors, including digital technologies, and to continue to be applied to areas of contemporary social and environmental justice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of human geography
EditorsAudrey Kobayashi
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9780081022962
ISBN (Print)9780081022955
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • classic cultural geography
  • cultural studies
  • cultural turn
  • digital technologies
  • feminism
  • gender
  • Indigenous geography
  • more-than-human
  • Poststructuralism
  • Postcolonialism
  • Postmodernism
  • race
  • the new cultural geography


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