Introduction to Human Geography

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Introduction to Human Geography

Lecture Outline

What is Geography

Geography is a subject.

Geography is a discipline.

Geographers use a set of methodologies.

Geographers have an epistemology.

Geographers ask, “Where?” when they want to know “Why?”

Geography is what geographers do.

Anything that takes place can be studied from a geographic perspective.

What is Geography

Geography is a subject.

Geography is a discipline.

Geographers use a set of methodologies.

Geographers have an epistemology.

Geographers ask, “Where?” when they want to know “Why?”

Geography is what geographers do.

Anything that takes place can be studied from a geographic perspective.

Where? Where!

“Where?”, is the most important question geographers ask.

Where things are give us important clues about why they are as they are.

Historians tend to ask “When?”…and focus on chronology.

Geographers focus on chorology…or more commonly “distribution”


The Jedi Major

Padawan Learners must learn to:

See as a Jedi

landscape interpretation

Think as a Jedi – epistemology

Use the force! Ask: “Where?”

Work as a Jedi

(GIS – light sabers)

Communicate as a Jedi


How this course works

The most important thing for you to learn is how to think…to develop epistemology and methodology.

You will be introduced to a series of subjects (politics, language, ethnicity, industry, etc.)

You will be shown how geographers “see” and understand these topics and how spatial thinking is applied to solve problems.

How this book is organized

Each chapter has a topic (politics, religion, ethnicity, etc.)

Each chapter has the following sections:

Region (Where is it?)

Migration/Diffusion (How’d it get there?)

Cultural Ecology (What’s the interaction with nature?)

Cultural Integration (How does it affect other things?)

Landscape (What does it look like as you drive by?)

Functional Region: TV Markets

Formal Region: German Speakers

Note the German heartland is both Protestant and German speaking, but the periphery is Catholic and more likely to include other languages.

Vernacular Regions

“Dixie” is another word for the southern US, but exactly where is “The South”?

Properties of Distribution

Density – measurement

Number of objects

Land area









Cholera map…

Payday Lenders vs. Doughnut Shops

Which industry do you think is more concentrated in the San Fernando Valley?

If one industry is concentrated spatial and the other is not, what inferences can we draw about the competitive nature of each industry?


Diffusion is how people, ideas, the flu, music styles, etc. move from a hearth at the core outward to the periphery.

Different styles of diffusion:

Hierarchical & Reverse-hierarchical

Contagious diffusion

Relocation diffusion

Stimulus (partial diffusion)

Barriers, including time and space intervene

Health and Medical Questions?


Humans and Environment

Geographers are also very interested in how the natural environment affects our cultural behaviors (and vice verse)

In the book, this relationship is called “Cultural Ecology”

Soils of Alabama

Soils in the blue color are particularly productive, especially for cotton.

Cotton Production: 1860

Note the relationship between cotton production and soil type in Alabama

Voting for Obama/McCain 2008

Do you see the relationship between soils-agriculture-politics?


Consider the parking structure across from Sierra Hall. What does it suggest about the culture that built it?

What symbolic values does it have?

What is not said?

Consider these Landscapes

Environmental Determinism? NO!


Environmental Possibilism?

Earth Modification


Hazard Location: Malibu



Example: the American log house

Geography of Folk Culture

Lecture Outline

California State University, Northridge

What is Folk Culture?


large and ever changing mass of people

division of labor

money based economy

police and army maintain order

heterogeneity and individualism


traditional ways

often rural

cohesive and homogenous

little labor specialization

family maintains order

subsistence economy

Is it so simple to tell?

Exactly what is folk and what is popular is sometimes “a distinction without a difference”.

Consider “Old School” Hip Hop

What is the role of space and place?

Local is __________

What? - Cultural Features

Material Culture-things that can be touched and tasted (artifacts).

Non-material-things that can’t be seen, touched or tasted such as, songs or folk tales (mentifacts).

Some Geographers study nothing but folk material items.

Raked Cemetery (fig)

Folk Culture Regions

Defined on the basis of their individual cultural elements.

Included among these traits are:


Song, dance and stories

Holidays, celebrations

Housing stock

American Folk Regions (fig)

Folk Food Regions

Geography of “spiciness” – Why?

Do any folk food regions still exist in the United States?

What would be a regional specialty for Southern California?

Why do many areas with hot climates have spicy cuisines? Pick the one that is INCORRECT.

A. It is easy to grow hot peppers in hot climates.

B. In hot climates, spoilage is common and pickling with peppers helps prevent spoilage.

C. In hot climates, sweating helps cool you down. Hot peppers make you sweat.

D. In hot climates, spicy peppers help cover the taste of spoiled food.

Folk Medicine

Roots, barks and fruits of plants used to cure ailments.

Still preserved in parts of Appalachia, Indian reservations and the Hispanic borderlands.

Also in the Asian culture groups.

Digging for Roots (fig)

Why dig?

COLUMBUS, Ohio     (AP) - State wildlife officers have identified dozens of ginseng harvesting violations in their effort to protect the medicinal herb.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources     says officers have uncovered over 60 violations involving more than 30 people. No one has been charged.

Ron Rogers, wildlife law-enforcement supervisor for central Ohio, says the state regulates ginseng to discourage over-harvesting, preserve the wild plants and allow them to reach maturity.

Last year, 3,626 pounds of ginseng were legally harvested in Ohio's mature woodlands. The dried roots sell for $400 a pound.

Potential violations include digging ginseng without landowner permission, off-season collecting or possession, failure to maintain accurate records and failure to certify ginseng prior to export.


Dirt and clay eating

Still practiced in Africa and some parts of the American South.


Parasites, nutrition, religion.

Distribution of Geophagy (fig)

Geophagy: US Southland

Folk Music

Folk music is that music that is produced largely for local consumption.

Profit motive is low.

Often uses homemade, or modest instrumentation (or none)

Often reflects the peculiarities of the local culture, local performance venues and even local climate conditions.

In class, which of these music genres was called “folk”.

A. Opera

B. Heavy Metal

C. Old School (early) Hip Hop

D. Disco

Lining Out – Folk Style Gospel

The “lining out” style of church singing is an ancient folk singing style brought from the British Isles to the United States.

It has long since died out in New England where it was once most popular.

It can still be found in two types of places:

Diffusion of Yankee Folk Singing (fig)

Why is it “here and not there”

Still most popular in the Upland South and among black churches. Why?

Camp meetings and Yankee teachers.

Why has this style diminished in the source area?

Why did it not spread to South Louisiana, or Southern California?

Cultural Integration in Folk Geography

Many folk practices are accepted into the larger world, and sometimes money is earned.

Popular culture frequently derived from folk materials.

Folk cultures also absorb popular culture

Example: Mountain Moonshine

Came with the Scots-Irish in the 1700s

Enjoyed much popularity during the prohibition era.

Often most popular in devout Baptist/Methodist areas and in dry counties.

Good money maker-much better than corn!

What is the geographic factor?

Major bust in July 2000 in Carolinas, TN.

Stock car racing and Moonshiners?

Whiskey and Fast Cars (fig)

Map of Moonshine Busts (fig)

Country & Western Music

We got bof’ kinds of music hyear...

Derived from Scots-Irish roots.

Fiddle heavy-bagpipe substitute?

Stayed in the mountains for decades

Mixed with African elements

Role of Ralph Peer and WSM.

Popularized, electrified and homogenized by Nashville.

Example: Bluegrass

Bill Monroe

Scottish Church singing

Mountain Jazz

Arnold Shultz and Uncle Pen

Place oriented

Voice pitch and sexual mores?

Bluegrass Hometowns (fig)

Folk Landscapes

Folk architecture is a good indicator of past folk life activity.

Structures built from collective memory.

Functional and often specific to natural conditions

Folk Ecology and Building Materials (fig)

Thatch (fig)


Dirt/Thatch (fig)

Grasslands and Mountains

Folk Housing in North America

Little new folk construction today

Balloon framing, professional design emerges in the 1850s….Sears & Robuck Houses

Still many survive

Building Materials

A sure clue to folk architecture is the local source materials.

Buildings made from distant materials are rarely of folk origins.

Bricks, grass, wood, sod, stone

Climate influences choice of materials

Adobe houses of the Southwest

Floor Plan

The floor plan of a house is another clue to its folk origins.

Many times the exterior of a house has been redone making it hard to determine its folk past.

Certain floor plans are common in certain regions of the United States.

Other clues

Consider the shape and pitch of the roof

Placement of the chimney (s)

Number and location of doors and windows.

Design of the porch…if there is one.

Which of these is a clue your house is NOT a folk house?

A. It’s made of entirely local materials

B. The walls were built with 2x4 boards.

C. The house is well designed for the local climate.

D. It was built in 1820.

Main North American Styles

Yankee –

New England, Upper Great Lakes States

Midwestern /Mid Atlantic –

Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland.

Upland South - Appalachia

Lowland South – “Black South”

Southwest – Adobes (Texas- California)



Found mostly in New England and the Great Lakes region of the Midwest.

Features typically include:

Large central chimney

Rooms arranged around central chimney

Steeply pitched roofs

Symmetry is important

Frequent style references to Greece/Rome

New England Large

Yankee-New England Large (fig)

Yankee – New England Large (fig)

Yankee – New England Large (fig)

Yankee – Cape Cod

Similar floor plan to the New England Large.

Story and a half.

Side door.

Yankee – Cape Cod

Yankee – Cape Cod

Yankee - Saltbox

Similar floor plan

Roofline extends over an additional row of rooms across rear of home.

Yankee - Saltbox

Yankee - Saltbox

Yankee -Upright and Wing (fig)

Demonstrates the infusion of popular culture (style) into the more purely functional folk house (type).

This house is in some ways a New England Large, turned sideways, so the gabled end faces the street to give it a Classical Appearance, which became popular in the early 1800.

Later becomes fully “Greek Revival”

Yankee- Upright and Wing (fig)

Yankee -Upright and Wing (fig)

Yankee -Upright and Wing (fig)

Midwest / Mid Atlantic

The Midwest and Mid Atlantic states have only two, similar house types.

Both are one room deep and two rooms wide

Both have gable end chimneys

Both have central hallways

Hall and Parlour

The I house

Named because of the states it was common in…

Book explanation is wrong.

Most common house among farmers in the middle states

Carolina – I House

Illinois – I House

Upland South

The Upland South is the “hillbilly” south, or the part that was not dominated by plantation agriculture.

Scots-Irish and Germanic influences are primary.

The “pen” is the single room cabin. All other configurations build from the single pen.

Upland South – Cabin and Porch (fig)

Upland South – Saddlebag

Upland South- Saddle Bag

Upland South -Dogtrot (fig)

Lowland South

The old plantation South

African and Caribbean influences are evident

Rare to find middle class housing. Why?

Lowland South-Shotgun (fig)

Lowland South – Charleston House

What type of house is this?

A. Cape Cod

B. Saddlebag

C. I house

D. New England Large

Where might you find this house?

A. Maine

B. California

C. Indiana

D. Tennessee

Other Regional Specialties

In some regions, the ethnic heritage of the local population remained dominant because there was less influence from other ethnicities or nationalities.

They remain distinct today.

Lowland South – Creole Cottage

Pennsylvania Dutch
Forebay Barn (fig)

North American Styles (fig)

Pennsylvania Dutch- Forebay Barn (fig)

Quebec House (fig)

Value of a porch?

A folk house’s porch design may offer clues to it utility in a variety of climate types.

This house did not have a porch.

Study Guide

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