GEOG 1303 Unit 4


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Unit 4: Cultural Geography



A.  Read the following selections from the Margin Notes by clicking on each link.


B.  Watch these presentations. When you click on one of the links below, a new screen will pop up. Use the scrollbar on the side of the new screen to navigate. You need Adobe Reader to view PDF files.


C.  (Optional) Read the following chapter from the textbook.

Chapter 14


D.  The following Optional Links will help you do better in your course but they are not required.


E.  Activity #3: Looking at Cities through a Cultural Geography Lens (10 points)To Do Note

In Activity #3, I'd like you to look as a geographer would look at some cities around the world.

In other words, don't look at things as a tourist or resident, both of whom would obviously be looking for specific things. Instead, try to take a more global view and look for examples of those things you've been studying in the course material – cultural landscape, cultural traits, etc.

WARNING: If you are not familiar with the margin notes and power point presentations material dealing with culture, you'll not do well on this activity. Catch up on the assigned material before you begin.

I've divided this activity into two parts. Both parts look at cultural landscapes but at different levels. The first takes a closer and narrower look, the second a broader look. For example, look at the two pictures below. They are very different pictures yet both are excellent examples of what the cultural landscape can tell you about a culture. The two parts of this activity are very different but both help you focus on the idea of cultural landscapes.

PHOTO OF A NEARBY CITY                                            PHOTO OF DISTANT LANDSCAPE


Part A. What Does a Picture Tell You About Culture?

Remind yourself of those things that are a part of a people's culture – visible and invisible, material and spiritual and so on. Remember, too, those building blocks of a culture – cultural traits. If you can't easily think of at least a dozen cultural traits, review that section of your course material now.

Once you've focused on what you need to know, click on the link below to access the presentation for this activity.

GEOG 1303 Activity #3 Pictures and Maps

Each of the first 10 slides contains a pair of pictures from two different cultures. (You'll use the remaining slides later.) I want you to examine the pictures as pairs. In other words, compare the two pictures in Pair 1 with each other, the two pictures in Pair 2 with each other and so on. For each of the 10 pairs of pictures, examine the two pictures and think about the following.

  1. What does the cultural landscape in each picture tell you about that culture?

  2. What similarities do you see between the cultural landscapes in the two pictures?

  3. What differences do you see between the cultural landscapes in the two pictures?

  4. Just for the fun of it, guess which two cities the pictures show. (I'll include the list when I send your points.)

Important: If you've read the assigned sections in the Margin Notes and are familiar with all of the cultural traits that make up a culture, you should have no problem identifying many examples in each picture. However, do NOT go "off picture" … do not list things not included in a picture, even if you recognize the location.

Once you have completed those steps for all 10 pairs, think about your lists of similarities and differences. Were there certain cultural traits that played an important part in most or all of the pairs? Were there traits that didn't seem important? Were there conclusions you made despite little evidence? In other words, were you able at some point to start really seeing characteristics of the cultures the pictures represented?

Now set those ideas aside (We'll come back to them.) while you look at the second part of this activity.


Part B. What Does a Map Tell You About Culture?

It's usually easy to think of specific things as reflecting a culture – clothes, architecture, religious buildings, parks or their absence, etc ... the very things you looked at in the first part of this activity. Often, though, we don't think of entire cities as being examples of their cultures. But, of course, they are.

Although every city, just like every culture, has its own unique characteristics, geographers are able to classify cities in a number of ways. One of the ways we classify cities is based on their origins/purpose – political, commercial, cosmic, sacred and colonial. You looked at this classification in your margin notes and I'd like you to apply that knowledge now.

If you have closed the presentation for this activity, go to the link above and reopen it. For this part of the activity, skip past the picture pairs you used above and use the Part B slides. You also need to use the link below to go to the section of the margin notes that discusses the different types of cities.

Cities and Culture

The first city type listed is political cities, with Baghdad as an example. Read what the margin notes say about political cities and analyze the city map of Baghdad in slide 11. Do the same with commercial cities and Calcutta (slide 12), cosmic cities and Kyoto (slide 13), sacred cities and Jerusalem (slide 14), and colonial cities and Shanghai (slide 15). Look for examples on the maps of those things mentioned in the margin notes. (This won't be easy initially since it's a way of looking at things with which you're unfamiliar … stick with it!)

Once you feel you understand city types sufficiently, I want you to apply that knowledge by deciding which of the five city types applies to each of the remaining cities in the presentation. Slides 16-20 contain city maps from five cities – Beijing, Delhi, Malacca, Mecca and Cairo. Study the five maps carefully, keeping in mind the descriptions in the margin notes. Compare those maps to the previous five maps if it helps. I strongly discourage you from going "off map" since the things you know about a city might steer you in the wrong direction. It's okay if you don't completely ignore everything you know about a city but try to focus on the material in front of you.

It's possible to classify many cities in more than one way. Shanghai, for example, is often classified as a commercial city as well as a colonial city. On the other hand, no city fits all five definitions … there ARE wrong answers to this activity. In addition to picking a type for each city, you must be able to explain why you chose that type. That's what is important in this activity and what will earn your points. By using the definitions and maps to develop a rationale for each choice, you'll more easily be able to see the characteristics that will help you make that choice.

When you have finished both parts of this activity, write a description of your activity that includes the 3 points below. Your answers should be thorough, specific, include relevant concepts from the course material and be free of spelling and grammar errors. If you have trouble with spelling and grammar, find someone to help you edit your work before you send it. Don't hide great ideas with poor writing habits.

  1. a discussion of your results from analyzing the picture pairs

While it is NOT necessary for you to include the outcome of every pair, your discussion should be detailed enough to demonstrate an appropriate amount of effort and an appropriate level of understanding. This is not the place for vague generalities. Take a chance ... say what you think and why.

  1. your classification of each of the five cities and the rationale for each

The rationale / justification for each classification must be consistent with the material in the assignment. For example, classifying Delhi as a commercial city because you've heard Indians are industrious is not acceptable since it has nothing to do with the material in the assignment.

  1. specific and detailed connections to course content

When it comes to making specific and detailed connections to the course material, I always show some leniency in the first assignment. With this second assignment, you need to begin to approach this item in a more scholarly fashion. This is the part of each assignment in which you should show off how much you know. You should have already completed margin notes and power point presentations that deal with relevant theoretical concepts so it should be easy to make those connections. If you don't, then you miss the purpose of the assignment and cannot expect to earn full points for it.


Activity Submission Instructions

By the deadline shown in the Course Schedule on the main page of the syllabus:

  • Send your description containing the components requested in the body of a new email to

  • Put only your name and Activity #3 at the beginning of your email.

  • Be careful to use the correct subject line.

  • Late descriptions lose one point per day late, including weekends and holidays.



Copyright 1996 Amy S Glenn    
Last updated:   03/01/2017   0130

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