Revisiting the history of ideas: a forgotten resource for historians of geography

Bruinsma, M. (2020) Revisiting the history of ideas: a forgotten resource for historians of geography. Geography Compass, 14(10), e12535. (doi: 10.1111/gec3.12535)

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In this paper I revisit the mid‐twentieth century body of literature founding the field of the history of ideas, emphasising the work of Arthur Lovejoy (1873–1962). This branch of intellectual history is often overshadowed by both the history of knowledge and the history of science. I will argue that the history of ideas is valuable to any historian of geography, even though some of its key arguments are justly criticised and rejected. Subsequently, I will reflect on recent examples of how histories of geography have been written and the role of geographers within a “spatial turn” taken by intellectual history. These elements will then be connected to the history of ideas, explaining why this field might be valuable to disciplinary historians, and brief reference will be made to the most explicit borrowing from this field by “idealist human geography.” The central argument is that a Lovejoyian history of ideas has contributed to the inclusion of and emphasis on certain non‐elitist voices in academia and the crossing of boundaries between disciplines, language areas and countries. Although certain epistemological aspects of this field might not withstand criticism, other aspects of what it has achieved might still be worth revisiting.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bruinsma, Ms Mette
Authors: Bruinsma, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Geography Compass
ISSN (Online):1749-8198
Published Online:29 June 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Author
First Published:First published in Geography Compass 14(10): e12535
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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