Carl O. Sauer

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Carl Ortwin Sauer

Carl Ortwin Sauer (December 24, 1889 – July 18, 1975) was an American geographer. Sauer was a professor of geography at the University of California at Berkeley from 1923 until becoming professor emeritus in 1957 and was instrumental in the early development of the geography graduate school at Berkeley. One of his best known works was Agricultural Origins and Dispersals (1952). In 1927, Carl Sauer wrote the article "Recent Developments in Cultural Geography," which considered how cultural landscapes are made up of "the forms superimposed on the physical landscape."

Early years[edit]

Sauer was born in Warrenton, Missouri and graduated from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in 1915.

Career[edit]

Carl Sauer's paper "The Morphology of Landscape"[1] was probably the most influential in developing ideas on cultural landscapes[2][3][4][5] and is still cited today. However, Sauer's paper was really about his own vision for the discipline of geography, which was to establish the discipline on a phenomenological basis, rather than being specifically concerned with cultural landscapes. "Every field of knowledge is characterized by its declared preoccupation with a certain group of phenomena,” according to Sauer.[6] Geography was assigned the study of areal knowledge or landscapes or chorology—following the thoughts of Alfred Hettner.[7] “Within each landscape there are phenomena that are not simply there but are either associated or independent of each other.” Sauer saw the geographer’s task as being to discover the areal connection between phenomena.[8] Thus "the task of geography is conceived as the establishment of a critical system which embraces the phenomenology of landscape, in order to grasp in all of its meaning and colour the varied terrestrial scene" [9]

Sauer was a fierce critic of environmental determinism, which was the prevailing theory in geography when he began his career. He proposed instead an approach variously called "landscape morphology" or "cultural history." This approach involved the inductive gathering of facts about the human impact on the landscape over time. Sauer rejected positivism, preferring particularist and historicist understandings of the world. He drew on the work of anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, and later critics accused him of introducing a "superorganic" concept of culture into geography.[10] Politically Sauer was a conservative, but expressed concern about the way that modern capitalism and centralized government were destroying the cultural diversity and environmental health of the world. He believed that agriculture, and domestication of plants and animals had an effect on the physical environment.

After his retirement, Sauer's school of human-environment geography developed into cultural ecology, political ecology, and historical ecology. Historical ecology retains Sauer's interest in human modification of the landscape and pre-modern cultures.

Awards[edit]

He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the American Geographical Society in 1935, and its Daly Medal in 1940.[11]

Graduate Students[edit]

Sauer graduated many doctoral students, the majority completing dissertations on Latin American and Caribbean topics and thereby founding the Berkeley School of Latin Americanist Geography.[12] The first generation consisted of Sauer's own students: Fred Kniffen (1930), Peveril Meigs (1932), Donald Brand (1933), Henry Bruman (1940), Felix W. McBryde (1940), Robert Bowman (1941), Dan Stanislawski (1944), Robert C. West (1946), James J. Parsons (1948), Edwin Doran (1953), Philip Wagner (1953), Brigham Arnold (1954), Homer Aschmann (1954), B. LeRoy Gordon (1954), Gordon Merrill (1957), Donald Innis (1958), Carl Johannessen (1959),Clinton Edwards (1962), and Leonard Sawatzky (1967).

Among them, Parsons remained at the University of California at Berkeley and became the most prolific among the first generation in terms of directing Latin Americanist doctoral dissertations. His Ph.D.s formed the second generation of the Berkeley School of Latin Americanist Geography: Campbell Pennington (1959), William Denevan (1963), David Harris (1963), Thomas Veblen (1975), Karl Zimmerer (1987), Paul F. Starrs (1989), John B. Wright (1990), and David J. Larson (1994). Apart from Latin America, Parson's PhD students such as Alvin W. Urquhart (1962) also worked in Africa.

Denevan became a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in turn, produced the majority of the third generation: Daniel Gade (1967), Bernard Nietschmann (1970), Roger Byrne (1972), Roland Bergmann (1974), Billie Lee Turner II (1974), Gregory Knapp (1984), Kent Mathewson (1987), John M. Treacy (1989), and Oliver Coomes (1992).

A member of the fourth generation, William E. Doolittle studied with Billie Lee Turner II, earned the Ph.D. in 1979, became a professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment at University of Texas at Austin, and has extended the school into the fifth generation: Dean P. Lambert (1992), Andrew Sluyter (1995), Emily H. Young (1995), Eric P. Perramond (1999), Phil L. Crossley (1999), Jerry O. (Joby) Bass (2003), Maria G. Fadiman (2003), and Matthew Fry (2008).[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sauer, C. O. 1925. "The Morphology of Landscape". University of California Publications in Geography 2 (2):19-53.
  2. ^ James, P. E. and Martin, G. 1981, All Possible Worlds: A history of geographical ideas, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1981: 321-324
  3. ^ Leighly, J. 1963. Land and Life: A selection from the writings of Carl Ortwin Sauer. Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 6
  4. ^ Price, M., and M. Lewis. 1993. "The Reinvention of Cultural Geography". Annals of the Association of American Geographers 83 (1):1-17.
  5. ^ Williams, M. 1983. "The apple of my eye: Carl Sauer and historical geography". Journal of Historical Geography 9 (1):1-28.
  6. ^ Sauer, C. O. 1925. "The Morphology of Landscape". University of California Publications in Geography 2, p. 20
  7. ^ Sauer, C. O. 1925. "The Morphology of Landscape". University of California Publications in Geography 2, p. 21
  8. ^ Sauer, C. O. 1925. "The Morphology of Landscape". University of California Publications in Geography 2, p. 22
  9. ^ Sauer, C. O. 1925. "The Morphology of Landscape". University of California Publications in Geography 2, p. 25
  10. ^ Duncan, J. 1980. "The superorganic in American cultural geography". Annals of the Association of American Geographers 70:181-198. But see also Solot, M. 1986. "Carl Sauer and cultural evolution". Annals of the Association of American Geographers 76(4):508-520.
  11. ^ "American Geographical Society Honorary Fellowships". amergeog.org. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  12. ^ Scott S. Brown and Kent Mathewson, "Sauer's Descent?, Or Berkeley Roots Forever?," APCG Yearbook 61 (1999): 137-57
  13. ^ Kent Mathewson, "Sauer’s Berkeley School Legacy: Foundation for an Emergent Environmental Geography?,". In Geografía y Ambiente en América Latina, Gerardo Bocco, Pedro S. Urquijo, and Antonio Vieyra, eds. (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2011)

Further reading[edit]

  • Carl Sauer on Culture and Landscape:Readings and Commentaries, edited by William M. Denevan and Kent Mathewson. Baton Rouge, LA:Louisiana State University Press, 2009 ISBN 978-0-8071-3394-1.
  • Culture, Land, and Legacy: Perspectives on Carl Sauer and Berkeley School Geography, edited by Kent Mathewson and Martin S. Kenzer. Baton Rouge, LA: Geoscience Publications, 2003.
  • Carl O. Sauer: Northern Mists, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1968.
  • Carl O. Sauer: The Early Spanish Main, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1966.
  • Carl O. Sauer: Agricultural Origins and Dispersals, American Geographical Society, 1952.

External links[edit]