A Spatial Manifesto

My name is Jon Anderson and I am a Professor of Human Geography at the School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University, UK. This website grew out of my interest in people and places. I believe there are important connections between the places around us, and who we are both as individuals and as groups. This website is therefore my manifesto for space.

From a professional perspective, this site is therefore about the discipline of geography. Geography is a subject and discipline that in many ways is both abstract and academic. In the popular imagination, geography allows us to learn the capital cities of the world, or the population sizes of nations and continents. Geography can be this, but to me, geography is much more than the compilation of statistics and the gathering of this important, but often dull, data.

Geography is our study of, and involvement in, the world of which we are a part. It is about the active contribution of people to places, and places to people. The ‘and’ is fundamentally important here. For me, geography has become academic and abstract because it detaches us from the world of which we are a part. It seems to suppose we are not intimately connected to the places around us. We, as people, are ‘us’ and place is ‘over there’, somewhere else, and we are above and beyond its influence. This is not the case. You are here. We are here. This place effects who we are. Places must do, else why are we happier when the sun comes out, why might we have SAD in winter, why might we enjoy holidays to new places, like weekends away to get a change of scene? With this in mind places are more than physical environments (although this physical aspect of place is of key importance), but they are also social and cultural, involving traditions, habits, customs, rituals, languages, ways of behaving etc. Why do we feel ‘at home’ in some places, but strange and somehow out of place in others? These points may seem somewhat obvious, so it is ironic that at once geography can seem abstract, but – in many senses – so close to home.

The effects of the places around us is what, from my point of view, the discipline of geography is all about.

At the School of Geography and Planning, I teach on the module ‘Cultural Geographies’ and undertake a variety of research projects, which you can find out more about on the website.

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