Viewpoint: exploring the role of geography

R. J. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The starting point for any discussion of the role of geography must be the recognition that the practice of geography varies substantially from country to country, and even within countries. This indicates that there is no general agreement on a working definition for geography - its scopes and its goals. The reasons for this lack of consensus are many, and reflect both the local context within which geography has been nurtured and the projects of the individual geographers who have steered the development of their discipline. Different people in different places define geography differently, according to their socialization and, their evaluation of contemporary conditions, and they promote the interests of the discipline accordingly. Given this introductory set of remarks, it ill behoves a visitor to suggest to geographers in another place what they should be doing, and to what ends; to attempt that would be an arrogant form of cultural imperialism. Nor does it seem very profitable to present in any detail a survey of geography in the visitor's home country, since the local context that it reflects may have little relevance to the situation being addressed. As a consequence, what I want to do here is adopt a much wider brief, addressing the general issues of the goals and roles of science and setting geography within that context. From this, it should be possible to identify issues of local relevance, which allow discussion of the role of geography in its local, time-and-place-specific, context. -from Author

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-103
Number of pages13
JournalGeography Research Forum
Publication statusPublished - 1990


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