GEOGRAPHERS` PERSONAL HISTORIES IN PLACE AND TIME

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GEOGRAPHERS' PERSONAL HISTORIES IN PLACE AND TIME, AND
THEIR SIGNIFICANCE FOR HISTORIES OF GEOGRAPHICAL KNOWLEDGE
Michael JONES
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway, [email protected]
Two broad, complementary approaches to histories of knowledge are: (1) Histories of
ideas in different disciplines and their social context; (2) Personal histories of
practitioners and how these both reflect and affect the development of particular
disciplines. A feminist critique of histories of ideas is that they have been presented
as apparently universal and objective while concealing a male bias, the role of social
and power relations, and the importance of individual lives and experiences in the
research process. This has led to a 'biographical turn' in social sciences. Important
from a geographical viewpoint is the contribution that affective bonds to places and
regions make to the development of a discipline. Childhood and adult experiences of
travel or fieldwork, within and outside an academic career, may strongly influence the
path of e.g. geogrpahical research. However, histories of geogrpahical knowledge
tend to have a European and North American bias, focusing particularly on Britain
and the USA. The Nordic 'periphery' often receives limited attention in such accounts.
The paper will analyse Nordic examples of histories of geographical knowledge,
including general histories of ideas, biographies (including obituaries and
encyclopaedia entries), autobiographies and autobiographical interviews in order to
investigate the influence of place and time on the choice of geographical research
topics and practice. In particular, autobiographical approaches at the Department of
Geography in Trondheim will be used to illustrate the spatial-temporal dimension in
the choice of research themes, methods, theory and theorizing, and its contribution to
the development of the discipline.
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