Anatomy of debate in human geography

Matthew G. Hannah, Ulf Strohmayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

As in other fields, advances in geographic knowledge rely as much on debate and disagreement as on cumulative, consensus based research. While debates have often been discussed by geographers, the focus has been on positions more than on the dynamics of debate itself. A scattering of explicit discussions of debating practices began to appear in the, 1990s (e.g., Pile and Pratt). Gerry Pratt's plea for a move away from “trashing” in debate, coming as it did from the editor of one of Geography's premier journals, helped to widen the focus to include the event of debate itself. Gill Valentine's shocking account of the horrible abuse she endured at the hands of a colleague highlighted in terrifying detail the potential for “mere” intellectual or professional antagonism to escalate into criminal harassment ( Valentine, 1998). Reginald Golledge, in his February 2000 President's Column in the AAG Bulletin, laments “a disturbing trend toward destructive, not constructive criticism”, a claim earlier voiced by Lawrence Brown's linkage between epistemological change and “warfare” in his 1999 Presidential Address to the AAG (Brown, L.A., 1999. Change, continuity, and the pursuit of geographic understanding. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 89 1, pp. 1–25. Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (16)Brown, 1999). Both would appear to concur with Dear in his judgment that “[n]egative remarks about areas of research and the people who conduct research in these areas have begun to scar the discipline” ( Golledge, 2000: 3) The present discussion around Michael Dear's recent public call for more civilized forms of debate ( Dear, 2001; Natter, 2001; DeFilippis, 2001 and Henrikson, 2001) represents the next step in a deepening engagement with what many plainly feel to be a serious problem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-404
Number of pages24
JournalPolitical Geography
Volume20
Issue number3
Early online date23 Feb 2001
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2001

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