4. Colonizing, Settling and the Origins of Academic Geography

  1. John A. Agnew2 and
  2. James S. Duncan3
  1. Daniel Clayton

Published Online: 14 JUL 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444395839.ch4

The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Human Geography

The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Human Geography

How to Cite

Clayton, D. (2011) Colonizing, Settling and the Origins of Academic Geography, in The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Human Geography (eds J. A. Agnew and J. S. Duncan), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444395839.ch4

Editor Information

  1. 2

    UCLA, Los Angeles, USA

  2. 3

    University of Cambridge, UK

Author Information

  1. University of St Andrews, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 JUL 2011
  2. Published Print: 8 APR 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405189897

Online ISBN: 9781444395839



  • colonizing, settling and origins of academic geography;
  • global imperial geographies - exploration, trade, warfare, migration, settlement, resource extraction and technological change;
  • The West's presumptive right to colonize - dispossess and exterminate indigenous peoples, the outer face of this will to power;
  • geographical impressionism - imperial mix animating origins of academic geography, adopting “geographical impressionism”;
  • geography, neither a unitary nor an uncontested instrument of power - not imperialist or racist in any straightforward way;
  • positioning geography - science contra exploration;
  • debate on ‘ideas’ - geographical discourse for a longer time;
  • public enthusiasm for geography in Britain - augmented in mid-nineteenth century, by Livingstone and African exploration, RGS and it's charismatic figurehead Roderick Murchison;
  • geographical societies of Europe - a panoply of educational, research and commercial aims - societies based in London, Paris, Berlin and New York;
  • geography, practical use and power - environmental determinism, as a means of shoring up geography's identity problems


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Surveying Geography and Empire

  • Geographical Impressionism

  • Positioning Geography: Science Contra Exploration

  • Geography, Practical Use and Power

  • Debating Geography and Empire

  • References