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Writing

  • By: Timothy Mennel
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Writing is the means by which geographers have traditionally represented the physical, cultural, and social worlds as they perceive, measure, and understand them. It is a conventional tool, the use of which entails uncertainty and perceptual bias. The contingent nature of understanding conveyed through the written word is a bedrock tenet of poststructural academics, but the idea that all language is fundamentally metaphoric or “figurai” is an old one, with roots in the writings of both Plato and Friedrich Nietzsche. The recognition of writing's fraught nature in geography dates back to Immanuel Kant. Writing today is undertheorized by geographers and is largely used either unreflectively or to predictable political ends.

As Jacques Derrida indicated, writing as a tool is intrinsically imbricated in power-creating systems. Every system ...

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