Cultural Geography Workgroup

What is cultural geography?

Spaces and places matter to us. But although the meanings of spaces and places are subjective they are not strictly private. Instead, they are embedded in collectively shared maps of meaning and social practices. When we relate our personal behavior to our social and material environment, we usually do so by referring to these maps of meaning rather than to an scientifically objective reality. Spaces, places, and things become real for us to the degree that they matter to us.

This notion of collectively shared maps of meaning and social practices can be seen as the basic approach of cultural geography. In this sense, culture is ubiquitous and cannot be seen as one geographical layer among many others. Instead, culture constitutes a research perspective that is concerned with the maps of meaning and practices in which spaces, places, and things are embedded.

 

Culture is nothing we posses, culture is something we do

There is no fixed archive of cultural meaning. Culture only becomes existent as it is practiced, embodied, produced, and reproduced.

Culture is fluid

Cultural meaning is not fixed once and for all. As we produce and reproduce culture, we are changing it constantly.

Culture is political

Maps of meaning are contentious and contested. Thus, conflicts over the interpretative hegemony with respect to spaces, places, and things are often as decisive asas conflicts over the actual use of these entities.


In sum, cultural geography is about the way we encounter spatiality in our day-to-day social practices through common understandings and about how we negotiate maps of meaning with the spaces and places of our life-world.


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