Volume 5 (2003)

Geographical Voice

David Wishart, "Progress (?) in Geography"


Cary W. de Wit, "Field Methods for Investigating Sense of Place"

Sense of place, referring to the experiential qualities that give a place human meaning, is elemental to place identity. Despite persistent calls for its inclusion in geographic descriptions, few geographers have articulated methods for experiential study. I address this deficiency by presenting a set of methods that draws on humanistic techniques already developed in anthropology, sociology, folklore studies, and cultural geography as applied to a study of the American High Plains. I describe the approach in terms of personal experience to help demystify the process of humanistic field work and to provide future field workers with detailed guidelines. Keywords: sense of place, humanistic geography, field methods, experiential geography, American High Plains.

Peter J. McCormick and Carolyn M. Daugherty, "The Role of Place in the New American West: A Case Study of Colorado's Cuchara Valley"

Few regions in the United States have gathered as much attention as the broadly defined "American West" over the past decade. The rapid growth of its population centers, its diverse cultural landscape, its natural resources, and its popularity in American history, lore, and imagination have drawn speculation from local residents, the media, and the academy. For geographers and others, a retrospective use of Donald Meinig's seminal piece, "American Wests: Preface to a Geographical Interpretation" has great predictive value. His analysis of the region's political, economic, and cultural character stood as an open invitation for geographers and others to explore the historical and cultural roots of little-known places in the region. Using "American Wests" as a guide, this study explores the historical and contemporary development of the Cuchara Valley of Southern Colorado. It is concerned with historical legacy and with contemporary developments. An examination of the processes of historical development, migration, and cultural change in the valley reveals new concepts of place applicable to regional interpretation. Keywords: American West, cultural geography, Cuchara Valley, Colorado.

Patricia Solis, "The Becoming of the Land of the Underground Rain: Place as Paradox in Liberal, Kansas"

Reflecting upon geographic theories of place as process, this paper explores the establishment, reproduction, and transformation of power relations in a Western Kansas town as an interplay between the biographies of residents and a sedimented political-economic history. Power relations have shaped the manner in which this place has come into being through conflict, contradiction and paradox. This case study advocates that regions be understood as places of paradox and that the becoming of places entail power relations that epitomize broader social conflicts while reflecting the historical tensions of social relations of production in a spatial sense. Keywords: sense of place, Liberal, Kansas, power relations, cultural geography.

Kristopher D. White, "An Assessment of Economic Change in the Northern Forest, 1971-1996"

The Northern Forest, a vast non-metropolitan region spanning the northern portions of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, experienced significant changes during the late 20th century. The regional economic change occurring within the region largely conformed to structural shifts from the primary sector (extractive activity) and primary-based manufacturing to the tertiary sector (broadly defined services). This restructuring occurred much later within the Northern Forest than in the United States economy as a whole. Using Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), population, aggregate income and employment, and sectoral income and employment change is documented within the Northern Forest from 1971 through 1996. Revealed comparative advantage and sectoral multiplier results are presented, showing the relative importance and stimulus effects of selected economic sectors within the region. Based on these results, the retail sector seems to hold the greatest promise for the future of the Northern Forest. Keywords: Economic change, Northern Forest, retail sector.

Gregory Brown and Lilian Alessa, "Alaska Identity Revisited"

Nearly 25 years ago, Cuba (1987) described how symbolic images of a wild Alaska framed the expectations of migrants to Alaska to perpetuate an identity based on comparative experiences with the world "outside" Alaska. Consistent with a frontier identity, Cuba found that Anchorage residents viewed themselves as being more resourceful, self-reliant, adventurous, and outdoor oriented than outsiders. In this study, we re-examine Alaska identity using survey research that replicates and expands Cuba's study to include proecological beliefs (New Ecological Paradigm). In survey responses from Anchorage and Kenai coastal community residents, we found that Alaska residents continue to perceive themselves as more resourceful, risk-taking, independent, and seekers-of-wilderness than outsiders. Alaska residents continue to harbor greater dislike for government intervention than those residing outside Alaska and hold a strong utilitarian view of nature. Interestingly, despite holding weaker proecological beliefs than outsiders, Alaska residents view themselves as more connected to the forces of nature. We discuss the implications of these findings for the continuing debate over resource development in Alaska. Keywords: Alaska, identity, human-environment interaction.

Evelyn D. Ravuri, "Michigan's Changing Hispanic Population, 1990-2000"

This paper provides a descriptive analysis of Hispanic population change in the 83 counties of Michigan between 1990 and 2000. Based on these changes, a typology of Michigan's counties is created. Three types of counties were of particular interest. High Growth counties, located in southwestern Michigan, experienced both high percentage and numerical increases in Hispanics. These counties have a long legacy of agriculture and contain cities like Grand Rapids which host a vibrant Hispanic community. The Detroit Metropolitan Counties experienced the highest numerical increase of Hispanics. Even though Wayne County's total population continues to decline, surrounding counties have grown and have provided employment opportunities for new Hispanic arrivals. Emerging Counties, located in the northwestern Lower Peninsula, experienced rapid percentage growth and numerical increases exceeding 100 Hispanics. The continued importance of agriculture, retirement migration, and resort development probably accounts for the growth of Hispanics who come seeking employment opportunities. Keywords: Michigan, Hispanics, population change.

Edward L. Jackiewicz and Yifei Sun, "The Ties that Bind, or Not? The Assimilation of Brazilian Migrants in South Florida"

This paper examines the immigration and assimilation experiences of Brazilians in South Florida. Brazilians have been largely overlooked in the immigration literature, however they are an increasingly important part of the changing ethnic mosaic in large U.S. cities, particularly in South Florida. This research builds on the notion of Brazilians as the "invisible minority," put forth in Margolis' study of Brazilians in New York City. To achieve our goal we conducted surveys with Brazilians in South Florida to examine their immigration experiences and feelings about the local Brazilian community. Our findings show that the invisibility of the Brazilian community is largely a function of the desires of the Brazilians themselves who wish to integrate quickly and, at least initially, earn money and return home. However, as the immigrants extend their stay (at least partially due to the ongoing economic hardships at home) they become more integrated and feel more strongly about strengthening the Brazilian community, which in turn is likely to heighten their visibility. Keywords: Brazilian immigrants, South Florida, ethnic geography.

From the Field

Hubert B. Stroud and Steve Tollefson, "A Vision for the Future at Rio Rancho, New Mexico"

Matthew R. Engel, "Whiteclay, Nebraska: A Problem Landscape"

Douglas A. Hurt, "A Linear Glance at Nacogdoches"


Special Section on Human Impacts on Wetlands; Christopher F. Meindl, Guest Editor

Geographical Voice

Christopher F. Meindl, "Finding our way INTO Swamps"


Matthew G. Hatvany, "The Aboiteaux of Kamouraska: Tradition, Modernity, and Environmental Change in the Tidal Marshlands of Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Quebec"

A series of dikes, called aboiteaux, dominate the coast of Kamouraska, Quebec. Today, the aboiteaux, used to transform the tidal marshes of the Saint Lawrence into agricultural land, are frequently portrayed as an example of willful destruction of the environment. But little is known about their origins: who built them and why were they compelled to transform the marsh environment? A geo-historical approach indicates that the aboiteaux were part of the same processes of modernization occurring elsewhere in 19th and early 20th century Quebec that resulted in the centripetal movement of the population towards the frontiers of the province and the centrifugal movement towards the industrial centers of the St. Lawrence Valley. In effect, the aboiteaux were part of a third "coastal" population movement to colonize the marshlands of the St. Lawrence. This movement is highly symbolic of efforts along much of the Northeastern seaboard to modernize agriculture and expand arable land in response to changing socioeconomic circumstances. Keywords: Aboiteaux, Kamouraska, tidal marshes, environmental change, agricultural modernization.

Robert Summerby-Murray, "Commissioners of Sewers and the Intensification of Agriculture in the Tantramar Marshlands of New Brunswick"

The historical literature on wetland and marshland transformation in the upper Bay of Fundy contains surprisingly little exploration of the specific management of these marshlands through the period of their most intensive agricultural use, the late eighteenth through to the mid twentieth century. This article addresses the micro-scale geographies of dyking and land drainage and how the management of marshland agriculture responded to changing economic circumstances. Focusing on the "sewer districts" and the Commissioners of Sewers, the article explores the administrative structures behind the intensification of marshland agriculture that accompanied the rise of marsh hay as a major market commodity. Using four temporal profiles (1815-38, 1865-82, 1922-30, and 1944-55) and drawing upon numerous "sewers records" and dyking bills, this article details the role of the Commissioners of Sewers in transforming the marshes into an intensively-managed agricultural landscape. Keywords: marshlands, agriculture, historical geography, Atlantic Canada.

Kimberly R. Sebold, "Transforming the Gardens of the Sea: The Manipulation of the Scarborough Marsh"

Account books, deeds, legislative petitions, and historic maps reveal the human manipulation that altered Maine's largest body of marshland, the Scarborough Marsh in Scarborough, Maine. In the early nineteenth century, Robert Southgate, judge and gentleman farmer, commodified the Scarborough marsh by selling his surplus salt hay and leasing tracts of marshland to farmers to harvest for winter fodder. He then initiated one of the first known dyking experiments in Maine. By mid-century, Southgate's legacy attracted the attention of another gentleman farmer, Seth Scamman. Scamman introduced large-scale dyking projects to the Scarborough Marsh making the area known for its agricultural production. In the late nineteenth century, the marsh underwent yet another alteration as Scamman's heirs developed portions of it into building sites for summer homes. My paper places the manipulation of the Scarborough Marsh into its proper historical and geographical context by examining the events surrounding the transformation of this wetland. Keywords: marsh, dyking, salt hay, Scarborough, Maine.

David J. Grettler, "The All Too Human Geography of Wetlands in Early Nineteenth Century Delaware"

Perceptions of wetlands in early Delaware changed over time, particularly after the American Revolution when powerful new marsh improvement companies were formed. These "ditch companies" used state incorporation laws and private taxes to drain and reclaim tens of thousands of acres of wetlands. These efforts, however, threatened ancient land-use patterns and rekindled concerns about taxation and aristocratic privilege straight from the Revolution. The ensuing forty-year battle over corporate ditching left a uniquely detailed record of everyday perceptions of wetlands. These perceptions varied by social and economic class and quickly became part of an increasingly sophisticated awareness of anthropogenic changes to the land. Existing political divisions fueled this growing awareness and shaped the course of environmental politics. The human geography of wetlands in early nineteenth-century Delaware was to recognize—and then dispute—anthropogenic changes to the land. Keywords: wetlands, human geography, environmental perceptions, Delaware.

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