Geography in public and public geography: past, present and future

Smith, Joe (2013). Geography in public and public geography: past, present and future. Geographical Journal, 179(2) pp. 188–192.



This review article considers the practice of public geography and the ways in which contemporary geography is inevitably conducted 'in public'. It has been provoked by the publication of Charles Withers’ monograph Geography and Science in Britain, 1831-1939: A study of the British Association for the Advancement in Science. Withers addresses how the discipline was constructed in relation to and in relationship with diverse publics and places. He generates a narrative that has striking relevance today. It suggests the purposeful ways in which a discipline is made and re-made and the role that different forms of public engagement have in those processes. Drawing on a range of cases the article considers the opportunities – or rather responsibilities – presented to today’s geographers to make geography public and to make public geographies.

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