Geographia Polonica (2007) vol. 80, iss. 1

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Regional Geography: Past and Present (A Review of Ideas, Approaches and Goals)

Paul Claval

Geographia Polonica (2007) vol. 80, iss. 1, pp. 25-42

Abstract

Geography always relies on regional approaches, since it deals with areas. However,in the last two centuries, the concept of the region has undergone profound changes. Whilegeographers long sought a delimitation and description of objective units on the Earth’s surface,the last forty years has seen them focus mainly on the significance of places, the meaning of territoriesand the role regional approaches have played in the building of identities. This paperhas sought to track the changing role of the regional concept in geography and to reveal the wayin which links up with other scientific disciplines (e.g. the natural sciences, sociology, economicsand history). The author concludes with an opinion regarding the current coexistence of the twoapproaches. Though stressing different factors where the shaping of terrestrial reality is concerned—and applying different concepts to express it—the two approaches seem to complementeach other as they work to explaining the social texture of space. What is more, the regionalapproach in the scientific study of human societies no longer constitutes a stage coming after allthe others, but is rather something to be used from the very beginning.

Keywords: region, regional geography, home country/pays, territory, identity, regional organization, symbol

Paul Claval, UFR de Géographie et Aménagement, Université Paris Sorbonne (Paris IV), 191, rue St.Jacques; 75005 Paris, France