11 thoughts on “History of Geography Blog Assignment #2 – 2017 – Spatial Models

  1. Maps are spatial representations, inherently physical AND human. Not only are they only made by humans (as far as I know), map-makers have long-included information about inhabitants. Just as sea monsters are no longer sketched in the corners of our mapped oceans, gone are the days of paragraphs describing cultural celebrations tucked between the lines of estimated graticules. While maps contain less text, they remain accompanied by it. What sets geographers apart is that they make the maps to the best of their abilities and resources, and their text exists to explain and support their maps. Others use maps (and cartograms, etc) made by geographers to explain and support their own writings – historians and anthropologists, for examples. All of them start at a subjective point at which they decide to either start writing or start mapping whatever to which they want to draw attention. All of them are influenced by the dominant ideology of their societies, the superstructure that shapes how they interpret the world around them.

    Western geographers reached a paradigmatic breaking point during the 1930’s and 1940’s when environmental determinism culminated in white-on-white ethnic cleansing. (Yes I know non-whites were killed but let’s not kid ourselves that Americans back then cared about brown people dying…most didn’t care then and most don’t care now.) Environmental determinism had had a good run. Western colonialism and imperialism were predicated on supposed natural superiority and European and North American geographers reflected the dominant ideology. Populations were classified based on where on the planet – in what climate – they lived, the evidence for which was of course defined by what ‘the West’ deemed right (their own superiority evidenced by technological advancements) and wrong (the nakedness and paganism of Africans and Native Americans). Dr. Davidson spoke of how low latitude climate of birthplace was a justification by Spain-born Spaniards to limit the powers of Spanish colonists born in the “New World”…as if physical birthplace alone determined whether or not you were fit to make decisions.

    In the wake of the death of environmental determinism, some geographers found some refuge in the reliability of the laws of the physical world and by distancing themselves from primarily social issues. It was a paradigmatic shift into stricter cartography. Individuals determined to remain human geographers committed themselves to spatial analysis. Spatial analysis intended to explain human patterns of behavior, but struggled to go beyond the patterns of behavior of “economic man” who is purely rational and without free will. Also, “he” is a free-market capitalist. The capitalist nature of mid-20th century Western spatial analysis is not coincidental. Like environmental determinism, it reflects the dominant ideology of its time. Models left many human geographers unsatisfied, not surprisingly some of whom demonstrated dissatisfaction with capitalism in other ways.

    The concept of spatial modeling was not new when it was embraced in the middle of the 20th century. In 1826 Von Thünen created a spatial model to represent the economy of agricultural production in terms of the cost of transport to market (a function of distance traveled by a horse-pulled cart and product) and market price. It is not surprising that a German made one of the earliest spatial economic models.

    The core-periphery model is a visual representation of the movement of labor and capital. Swede Gunnar Myrdal and Austrian John Friedmann created core-periphery models to facilitate understanding of the patterns of industrial urbanization and the consequences of capitalism (in the late 50’s and 60’s). Myrdal – and his also impressive wife, Alva – helped shape the Swedish welfare state in the 1930’s and then headed to the United States so he could direct Carnegie Corporation research on black Americans. Above his desk in Stockholm was a quote from Abraham Lincoln, ”To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” He argued against inequality and for social justice from various positions, including political ones, throughout his life. His findings on black Americans were cited in the U.S. Supreme Court decision to reject the policy of separate-but-equal education. The New York Times made no mention of geography in his lengthy 1987 obituary, but it is there – the space between the lines.

    Spatial analysis is no longer limited to models that exist in isotropic planes. Human geographers can attempt to identify patterns of human behavior based on enormous quantities of spatially-collected data, and make predictions based on physical constraints regarding the non-behaviors of populations. The technology has great potential, it is the dominant ideology it serves that concerns me. The very nature of the data collected (or not) at any scale reflects it.

    http://researchguides.dartmouth.edu/gis/spatialanalysis
    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/18/obituaries/gunnar-myrdal-analyst-of-race-crisis-dies.html
    https://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch6en/conc6en/vonthunen.html

  2. In 1975 researchers, A.D. Cliff and J.K. Ord, wrote of the use of statistical models and analysis to describe spatial patterns in human geography. Looking back to the empirically derived origins of the discipline, they quoted Richard Hartsthorne from his 1959 book, Perspective on the Nature of Geography, citing geography as one of the chorological sciences whose “point of view is to know the character of regions and places through a comprehension of the existence together and interrelations among the different realms of reality and their varied manifestations, and to comprehend the earth’s surface as a whole in its actual arrangements in continents, larger and smaller regions, and places” (Cliff and Ord 1975, 297-348). Hartsthorne characterizes the purpose of geography as seeking independent empirical observation and classifying universal phenomena by using processes of analysis and synthesis of the facts, ultimately calling for the use of scientific method and the application of statistical methods (Hartshorne 1959). Geographers have always been interested in describing discrete circumstances of a locale as well as the fundamental element of the discipline to describe those variations through areal analysis (Hartsthorne).
    The time Hartsthorne was writing, during the 1950’s, using statistical models to describe the phenomena occurring on the earth’s surface became a crucial part of the discipline of geography. The images above are representative of some of the statistical models that were used to analyze patterns in a spatial or areal fashion. Pictured are statistical models describing development or economic spatial patterns. Early analysis from the developmentalism school of thought proposed that the Economically More Developed Countries, EMDCs, like Europe and North America have developed in a ‘right’ way that should be copied by Economically Less Developed Countries, ELDCs (Nagle 1999). However, in later analysis, “including the dependency theory, show that EMDCs may in fact, be the cause of underdevelopment in many ELDCs” (Nagle 1999). These theories of development, when analyzed spatially and statistically, can describe a pattern or model that can be used to analyze or apply to other similar locations.
    The Myrdal and Friedmann models both describe development spatial patterns. The Myrdal model of 1955 is the model of cumulative causation and spatial interaction, a spatial model which assumes a spatial pattern of “core-periphery,” or a region, and is used to study how economic forces shape a region as well as how regional interaction shapes the economy (Nagle 1999). The Friedmann spatial model shows pattern development at the scale of a country, or multi regional, and studies how different regions develop at different rates (Nagle 1999). Other models pictured, like the Von Thünen Model (1826), tackle economic patterns of land use and is used in the study of agricultural geography (Dhillon and Singh 2004).
    Statistical models are by nature theoretical generalizations about a certain condition or set of conditions that can be modified by assumptions and constraints. In their analysis of the state of statistical models being used in human geography Cliff and Ord reiterate that describing spatial patterns, identifying the processes producing the patterns, and then forecasting is of main concern for the geographer (Cliff and Ord 1975, 297-348). Understanding the appropriate methods and approaches to applying statistical spatial models should be a concern for both the geographer and statistician, working together to describe the data of the earth’s surface.
    References
    Cliff, A. D. and J. K. Ord. 1975. “Model Building and the Analysis of Spatial Pattern in Human Geography” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series B (Methodological) 37 (3): 297-348. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2984781.
    Dhillon, S. S. and Jasbir Singh. 2004. Agricultural Geography. 3rd ed. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.
    Hartshorne, Richard. 1959. Perspective on the Nature of Geography. 2nd ed. Association of American Geographers.
    Nagle, Garrett. 1999. Development and Underdevelopment Thomas Nelson.

  3. The development of spatial science as the focus of geographic study coincides with a move away from the regionalism which had largely reigned in the preceding decades. Under regionalism, geographic study had been preoccupied with the where, what, and why of individual regions of the world—the peculiarities of distinct places, uncovered via extensive inventories of their contents. As such, regionalism comprised itself of two very obvious but important posits: that the world was comprised of regions, and that these regions were unique.

    For the development of geography as a “serious” scientific field, these were both problematic principles, antagonists to the development of the type of overarching laws increasingly seen as important in validating geography as a distinct area of inquiry. This was less an issue for the physical side of geography, which was more easily aligned with scientific theory via the study of natural systems: although perhaps unique in sum, regions were nevertheless created by and subjected to universal geomorphological processes, and the development of laws concerning these had broader applicability.

    But for the human side of geography, universal laws were more elusive. The trend towards description and differentiation of regions was ill-suited to uncover greater “truths” applicable everywhere, all the time, for ever and ever—particularly without a unifying theoretical basis for studies, and avoiding the sticky subject of environmental determinism. As methodology and applicability grew in importance to geography, regionalism became a troublesome fracture zone separating one region from another, geography from other fields, and even the physical and human sides within the discipline itself.

    The rise of spatial science was thus part and parcel of a larger quantitative shift in geography gaining speed in the 1950s. Theories tested via models became commonplace. The diagrams above are illustrative of some of these theories and models, particularly interested in the distribution and flow of people and economic activity. The Griffin-Ford Model of Latin American cities, for instance, is seen in the upper left corner, showing the distribution of various city sectors around the central business district. Below this are visualizations of three additional urban land use distribution models—Burgess’s concentric zone model, Hoyt’s sector model, and Ullman’s multiple nuclei model. On the bottom left is the Myrdal-Friedmann core-periphery model of regional development. These models are perhaps indebted to the two shown on the right—Christaller’s central place theory on the distribution of cities and towns around a central place on the top, and von Thünen’s agricultural land use model on the bottom.

    The illustrations of these models are attractively tidy—complicated but clean, built on human geography but sculpted by geometry—and this statement holds true for spatial science itself, to its acclaim and criticism. The quantitative approaches of spatial science were successfully overarching and did produce “laws” (or at least models) backed by statistics and economics. Yet this streamlined answer to geography’s identity crisis necessarily required reducing down complexities to statistically digestible parts, and this was accomplished by cutting out the messy bits—the outliers, the unruly factors, and, not insignificantly, reality itself. Models often reflected the outcomes of rational choices by economically motivated and equally educated masses, propagating over isotropic surfaces with evenly distributed resources.

  4. After the Harvard debacle and the removal of Geography Departments across the country the discipline encountered a identity crisis. The rejection by Harvard created the stigma that geography was not a science but a subdivision of other fields. As explained in class regional studies were considered an inadequate paradigm for scientific study; there was an increasing division between human and physical geography; and, there was an increasing split between American and European traditions which was based on the acceptance or rejection of environmental determinism.
    As a answer to the claim Geography was not a science, Geographers introduced quantitive methods —as found in other fields considered “true sciences” — and with this move Geography’s Spatial Analysis begins.

    Spatial Analysis are models, theories and techniques that represent the interaction of humans and their environment. These are achieved by studying physical and spatial properties and their influence on human dissemination in both small and large scales.

    Spatial Analysis reveal such important and critical information necessary in understanding concepts such as time geography, human/urban growth/sprawl, cause-effect relationships, human migration, diffusion and social interaction patterns, etc.

    People like Torsten Hägerstrand (migration, cultural diffusion and time geography), Walter Christaller (Central Place theory), Johann Heinrich von Thüner (Von Thüner Model), Alfred Weber, Myrdal & Friedmann (Core-Peripheral Model) are considered the European forefathers of the Spatial Analysis science in Geography.

    Torsten Hägerstrand and Time Geography
    Time geography or time-space geography is an evolving transdisciplinary perspective on spatial and temporal processes and events such as social interaction, ecological interaction, social and environmental change, and biographies of individuals. (1)

    Walter Christaller and the Central Place Theory
    Central place theory is a geographical theory that seeks to explain the number, size and location of human settlements in an urban system. (2)

    Johann Heinrich von Thüner and the Von Thüner Model
    Pre-industrial revolution Agricultural model. The model is divided into 4 rings that surround the city and showcase specific activities performed in each due to the proximity or distance from the inner circle. Von Thüner utilized the following parameters to create his model:
    1. city as an “isolated state” which is self-sufficient and can sustain itself without any external influences.
    2. isolated stated surrounded by unoccupied wilderness.
    3. the land is flat with not major topography features that alter the landscape.
    4. soil quality and climate are consistent throughout the area.
    5. Farmers in the Isolated State transport their own goods to market via oxcart, across the land, directly to the central city. Therefore, there are no roads.
    6. Farmers act to maximize profits.(3)

    Myrdal & Friedmann and the Core-Peripheral Model
    In this model the symbiotic relationship between a “center” and the “peripheral” is explored. A center creates the necessary capital to sustain a periphery while the last provides necessary services, goods and labor to sustain the center.

    References

    Thrift & Pred 1981, p. 277; Carlstein 1982, p. ii
    2. Goodall, B. (1987) The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography. London: Penguin.
    3. Rosengber, M. (2017) The Von Thünel Model. https://www.thoughtco.com/von-thunen-model-1435806

  5. After the Harvard debacle and the removal of Geography Departments across the country the discipline encountered a identity crisis. The rejection by Harvard created the stigma that geography was not a science but a subdivision of other fields. As explained in class regional studies were considered an inadequate paradigm for scientific study; there was an increasing division between human and physical geography; and, there was an increasing split between American and European traditions which was based on the acceptance or rejection of environmental determinism.
    As a answer to the claim Geography was not a science, Geographers introduced quantitive methods —as found in other fields considered “true sciences” — and with this move Geography’s Spatial Analysis begins.

    Spatial Analysis are models, theories and techniques that represent the interaction of humans and their environment. These are achieved by studying physical and spatial properties and their influence on human dissemination in both small and large scales.

    Spatial Analysis reveal such important and critical information necessary in understanding concepts such as time geography, human/urban growth/sprawl, cause-effect relationships, human migration, diffusion and social interaction patterns, etc.

    People like Torsten Hägerstrand (migration, cultural diffusion and time geography), Walter Christaller (Central Place theory), Johann Heinrich von Thüner (Von Thüner Model), Alfred Weber, Myrdal & Friedmann (Core-Peripheral Model) are considered the European forefathers of the Spatial Analysis science in Geography.

    Torsten Hägerstrand and Time Geography
    Time geography or time-space geography is an evolving transdisciplinary perspective on spatial and temporal processes and events such as social interaction, ecological interaction, social and environmental change, and biographies of individuals. (1)

    Walter Christaller and the Central Place Theory
    Central place theory is a geographical theory that seeks to explain the number, size and location of human settlements in an urban system. (2)

    Johann Heinrich von Thüner and the Von Thüner Model
    Pre-industrial revolution Agricultural model. The model is divided into 4 rings that surround the city and showcase specific activities performed in each due to the proximity or distance from the inner circle. Von Thüner utilized the following parameters to create his model:
    1. city as an “isolated state” which is self-sufficient and can sustain itself without any external influences.
    2. isolated stated surrounded by unoccupied wilderness.
    3. the land is flat with not major topography features that alter the landscape.
    4. soil quality and climate are consistent throughout the area.
    5. Farmers in the Isolated State transport their own goods to market via oxcart, across the land, directly to the central city. Therefore, there are no roads.
    6. Farmers act to maximize profits.(3)

    Myrdal & Friedmann and the Core-Peripheral Model
    In this model the symbiotic relationship between a “center” and the “peripheral” is explored. A center creates the necessary capital to sustain a periphery while the last provides necessary services, goods and labor to sustain the center.

    References

    Thrift & Pred 1981, p. 277; Carlstein 1982, p. ii
    2. Goodall, B. (1987) The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography. London: Penguin.
    3. Rosengber, M. (2017) The Von Thünel Model. https://www.thoughtco.com/von-thunen-model-1435806

  6. Following the standard of regional geography as the principal academic focus within the field of geography, a considerable blowback led to the development of spatial analysis techniques to bring scientific affirmation to the field. For many universities, regional geography did not feel deserving of a degree as it was viewed as lacking any scientific significance. As a means to quantify spatial data, geographers began developing spatial models and systems that brought scientific justification to the field. Using visual methods to portray data and information has since become applicable to nearly all fields of geography and spatial analysis in the form of GIS and remote sensing is commonplace and far-reaching across multiple disciplines. Using spatial analysis skills to develop theories on urban planning and city structure have helped geographers create models of city growth that use constantly to understand the basic functions of cities. Spatial analysis within geography also revitalized older geographic theories such as the Von Thunen model that was initially developed in the 19th century. The Von Thunen model for agricultural land use displays the relationship between agricultural products and their distance to the market with the available land in the inner circle proving to be the most expensive and less available. Dairy products, produce, and garden products help make up the inner circle which has to make it to market quickly due to expiration which leads to the small available agricultural land that can be used being more costly than the relatively cheap and vast land needed for raising cattle and livestock (the outermost ring of the model and the furthest from the center market). This geographic model, once given spatial representation, can be understood and quantified through analysis. Another spatial analysis model demonstrated in the collage is a form of Friedmann’s Stages of Growth Model that was introduced in 1966. This model demonstrates the interaction between locations as a region industrializes using the definitions of core and periphery locations. The first stage of the model, a pre-industrial society, sees a series of towns/regions that minimally interact with one another beyond basic trade systems. As the regions begin to transition, one of the locations will become more dominant than the others and begin to function as a core and the separated areas will begin to interact more and more. When industrialization comes along in the third stage, growth centers and semi-periphery areas start to develop and flows between them increase even more. Finally, in the fourth stage, all areas are sufficient but heavily rely upon the others for the flow of trade and goods. Before spatial analysis became a staple in the field of geography, theories like this would have trouble finding their way into the academic world as geography mostly consisted of just regional place description and evaluation. With the development of spatial analysis and its application to all facets of geographic thought, models and systems could be developed and tested which gave much more depth and validation to the field within the scientific community. Academic geography would be unrecognizable without it.

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