Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oxford Dictionary of Human Geography

The Oxford Dictionary of Human Geography, written by Noel Castree, Ali Rogers and myself, is officially published today.  I received an advance copy late last week and I have to say that I'm really pleased with final product.  Because we wrote the entries, rather than commissioning and editing them, there is a nice consistency in style.

Amazon UK have a special deal on at the minute - it's £7.79 rather than the usual £12.99 (40% discount).  And here's the link to Amazon US ($18.95) and to Oxford University Press.  Even without the discount, my sense is the price is a bargain for 2,100 entries, totalling some 315,000 words, on all the key terms in the discipline.

Here's the preface, which provides an overview of the book:

The study of geography can be traced back to Ancient Greece.  It became a formal school and university discipline in the late nineteenth century and since then it has developed and diversified both conceptually and methodologically.  In this volume we provide concise, straightforward definitions of the terms, concepts and methods that comprise human geography’s contemporary lexicon.  It is designed to be used by students of the subject at all levels, so too their teachers. But it’s also intended to appeal to others who, for whatever reason, are curious about human geography and how it seeks to make sense of the extraordinary world we live in. It is not an encyclopaedia, but it offers more breadth and depth concerning the large and diverse body of knowledge of human geography than one finds in most dictionaries of geography, which try to cover both the human and physical aspects of the subject.
         In the pages to come we’ve sought to present the debates and insights of our peers in the world of university geography, even as we’ve included entries on subjects more commonly associated with a geographical reference work. Consequently, readers will find entries on the likes of Afghanistan, Mecca and Tokyo alongside entries on terms such as placelessness, spatial autocorrelation and Tobler’s first law of geography. We’ve also included other kinds of entry that will, we hope, be of interest. For instance, there are biographical entries about the intellectual contributions of leading human geographers past and present, entries about key books that have influenced geographical thought, and key events, political agreements and organisations that have shaped the world and the discipline of geography.  In the appendices at the back of the book you will find lists of peer-review human geography journals, geographical societies, and human geographers whose research has been recognised as outstanding by their peers, plus maps that show the location of place entries. We have been selective in our coverage of places, countries, events, organisations and agreements, only including entries on those that, in our view, were or are iconic or important in economic, cultural or political terms. Some readers may wish for a larger and wider selection, but this book is not intended to be a gazetteer.  Many entries direct readers to websites where they can learn more. In other cases further reading and references are listed at the end of many entries. The majority of entries contain cross-references to others, allowing readers to follow their own paths through the dictionary. We hope these cross-references allow you to widen and deepen your understanding of human geography – even if your initial intention was to get clued-up about just one or two of our 2100 headwords. Finally, not a few entries offer considerable detail on the subjects in question because of their importance or complexity. 
         Just a few minutes dipping into this work will reveal that human geography is porous in two senses. First, its subject matter intersects with virtually every social science and humanities subject, from anthropology to philosophy to sociology, and human geographers are engaged in routine exchanges with their academic neighbours. In each case we try to show their relevance to human geography and how our understanding of them benefits from taking a geographical perspective. Secondly, human geography is in many senses an everyday phenomenon. Many of its key concerns are daily news – for instance, urbanization, deindustrialization and international migration. Likewise, its concepts are everyday ones, even if professional geographers utilise them in ways lay actors might not readily recognise (e.g. landscape, nature and place). These aspectss make a dictionary of human geography relevant to readers in ways that, say, a dictionary of physics or ancient history are not. We hope readers who study the subject formally, and those who hold a more general interest, will better understand their own human geographies by perusing the entries.

1 comment:

seana graham said...

Congratulations, Rob. It does indeed sound interesting, and I'll ask our Oxford rep about it when next I talk to him.