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the wind beneath my (geographical) wings.

February 27, 2011

because she's awesome. and she's the wind beneath my wings. in life.

awhile back my uncle asked me who my favorite geographers were.  the following is a list of the geographers who have been, and i suppose still are, important reference points in my geographical journey…i know that’s not exactly the same as favorite…but i suppose they are also my favorite geographers.

the late, great bernard nietschmann.  this is really the man who started it all for me.  i’d bounced around, changed my major seven times.  i was researching the miskito coast of nicaragua for a class i had on mesoamerican culture and ecology and i kept coming across his name.  he was essentially the man in terms of info and research in the area and he was a geographer.  and yet his books were packed full of all sorts of stuff…sociology, anthropology, economics, marine/wilfelife biology, mapping, conservation of culture and environment.  he was working on indigenous mapping and protected areas before it was en vogue.  that’s when i knew.  geography was my calling.  he also got me interested in a lot of stuff i wasn’t interested in before.  his work showed me connections and stories…it was really where i began to synthesize the experiences in my life and start to more actively pursue connections i saw…to analyze them rather than just notice that there was perhaps threads and connections.


dave rossiter.  dr. nietschmann was the man who initially put geography on my radar and made me take those first steps but dr. rossiter, dave, was the guy who hooked me on geography; proved, convinced, confirmed that geography was the way to go.  my first geography class, outside of your basic 100 level physical and human geography classes, was canadian geography with dave.  we covered so much information, and again it proved to me just how interdisciplinary geography was and how it was really about making connections over time and space, as well as between people.  and he was passionate about the discipline, and also was obviously having heaps of fun with it.


yi-fu tuan.  hard to know what to say about this man.  considered by many to be the father of humanist geography…it’s much like what it sounds like but if you need more of a description head on over to wikipedia and they can break it down a little more for you.  i don’t much care that he was the father of humanist geography though…i appreciate and respect that he stepped up but if that was all he did, he probably wouldn’t be on this list.  over the years he’s written his famous (at least in geography nerd circles) dear colleague letters.  these are awesome.  much like this blog they don’t necessarily scream out geography, but they are most definitely written through the eyes of not only a geographer, but an observant, curious, insightful man.  i would encourage you to check out the archive project set up to create a catalog of his letters, perhaps even select a few to read at random.


helga leitner.  i met with a lot of professors at a lot of geography departments in various locations throughout the country during my grad school hunt but dr. leitner had an enthusiasm for geography that i hadn’t encountered, and haven’t since.  i walked in for my meeting with her and the formalities lasted all of about 10 seconds.  and then it was just a massive geography geek out session.  she asked me if i’d read a certain piece of writing and i said no…it snowballed quickly from there…throwing ideas around…brainstorming, just having a really great time.  she didn’t talk at me, she never asked me to talk at her or explain myself…it was as if i was a colleague…she was bouncing ideas off of me, giving me resources to check out, and letting me bounce ideas off of her, asking for resource recommendations.  i walked out of there knowing that if i didn’t have the same enthusiasm for geography that she did, i should find some other line of study or work.  she is stoked on her work.  and on geography.  and it was exciting and inspiring.


carolyn finney.  carolyn came and gave a talk about her path to geography at western washington university while i was doing my undergrad work there.  she’s got a big focus on environmental justice and has a couple of really great pieces, one entitled “black faces, white spaces: african-americans and the great outdoors” and another entitled “black, white and shades of green: exploring issues of race, land and identity.”  you should check out both of them.  really great pieces.  she brings a little bit different focus to her work than most geographers i follow.  and she’s also the person that got me thinking about geographic imaginations and personal geographies of youths (i will expand and explain this more in a later post.)


ed carr.  edward carr is a development geographer (i’m not going to lie, i’m not exactly sure what a development geographer is, i’m hoping to ask him at some point.  suffice it to say he has a degree in geography and he works on development issues) and though i’ve never actually met him it was his work that really forced me to branch out and start exploring and understanding stuff that i had always ignored (mostly economics).  reading his papers and his blog is also probably one of main the reasons i began to focus on food security and agricultural development topics in my work.  i encourage you to check out his blog if you have any interest in international development issues, international relations, current events, or are just a curious person.


john bale.  i have no idea where exactly this man currently is, but somewhere in western europe, most likely the uk.  he’s without a doubt the man when it comes to geography of sports and he also has interests in geographic education.  his writings make up about 90% of the readings i find when looking for information on the geography of physical culture, geography of sport and information regarding post colonial sports geographies.  geography of physical culture and sports is one of my main (broad) interests and he’s really about the only guy i can find that’s as interested as i am in it.  i don’t really have any links for him but you can find a few of his books and publications rolling around on the interwebs and on amazon.

the following is a list of people who i admire and whose writings i read though there’s no personal connection, but perhaps their topics of scholarly writing will help to give you insight into what sorts of stuff i’m interested in studying.

james mccarthy

karl zimmerer

terry mcgee

michael watts

gillian hart

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lynn permalink
    February 28, 2011 7:11 am

    Cheybe, great explanations and biographical comments. Makes me want to read more about them. Stay warm, love ya!

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