Hartshorne Contribution to Geography Notes by NETSET CORNER

Richard Hartshorne Contribution to Geography

Richard Hartshorne (1899-1992)

Richard Hartshorne was a prominent American geographer and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He specialised in economic and political geography and philosophy of geography.

He is known in particular for his methodological work “The Nature of Geography: A Critical Survey of Current Thought in the Light of the Past”, published in 1939. This book reflected his concern that geographers, as scientists and scholars, should familiarise themselves with and take account of, past work in their field. The book itself became a standard in the field and remained in print for decades; the seventh edition was published in 2000. In this publication, Hartshorne focused on two major themes. The first involved the debate in which European geographers of the 1930s attempted to decide whether geography should be primarily systematic or regional. Along with this, his second goal was to integrate the German and American traditions of the discipline.

The term ‘Areal Differentiation’ was coined & used by Hartshorne in his classical work “The Nature of Geography” published in 1939. He stressed more on areal differentiation (regional geography).

In his work, ‘Perspectives on the Nature of Geography’ (1959), he further clarified his position by stating that the goal of geography is comprehension of the earth’s surface, which involves the “analysis and synthesis of integrations composed of interrelated phenomena of the greatest degree of heterogeneity of perhaps any field of science”.

He believed that geographers should concentrate on explaining the interrelations of the features of the Earth using either ‘social laws’ or ‘natural laws’ as the situation demands. Furthermore, he insisted that geography is not simply a physical science in which human activity is of interest only as the natural world influences it. Instead, he argued that the influence of people on the landscape and the impacts of the natural environment on human activities were of equal significance and were equally useful in explaining the nature of a place, region or geographic feature. He called history ‘time science’ and geography as ‘space science’.

Key Points on Richard Hartshorne:

[1] Richard Hartshorne supporter of Regional Geography.

[2] His famous book: ‘The Nature of Geography’ (1939), & ‘Perspectives on the Nature of Geography’ (1959)

[3] The term ‘Areal Differentiation’ was coined & used by Hartshorne.


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