Towards a Genealogy of Critical Physical Geography

  • Stuart N. Lane
  • Christine Biermann
  • Rebecca Lave


This chapter links the history of the discipline of Geography and the core tenets of Critical Physical Geography (CPG) so as to tease out its genealogy. After review of the pitfalls of historical attempts at integration in Geography which CPG seeks to avoid, we consider the philosophical imperative invoked by some physical geographers and wider concerns about the social construction of science. We show how CPG goes beyond historical calls for ‘crossing the divide’ to address what should be integrated, how integration is done, and by whom. We conclude with three genealogical threads that run through CPG: the value of philosophical introspection; the need to develop much richer forms of integration within the discipline; and the value and nature of ‘critique’ in relation to how the researcher should be separated from the researched.



The basis of this chapter was a consultation as to key articles in the history of Geography that have influenced the authors of other chapters in this Handbook and we acknowledge the responses received from Louise Bracken, Simon Dufour, Chris Duvall, Salvatore Engel-Dimauro, Daniel Knitter, Javier Arce Nazario, Nathan Sayre, and Marc Tadaki.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart N. Lane
    • 1
  • Christine Biermann
    • 2
  • Rebecca Lave
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, Université de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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