It's one of those happy coincidences of timing: in the same week, we have had a convergence of human and cultural geographers from two universities in the Netherlands here at TALIM. What is the difference between the disciplines?
From the University of Utrecht's Human Geography and Planning website, the answer in a series of questions:
Why do urban areas differ in terms of economic innovation, creativity and quality of life?
How do social and economic inequality and tensions between lifestyles in cities arise?
Which governance systems and policies are most effective to address social, economic, cultural and mobility issues of the urbanised world?
How can we use and develop scientific theories and methodologies to investigate these issues?
The University of Wageningen describes its Cultural Geography Group in these terms:
[T]he work of the group is focused on mobility (including tourism, leisure and migration studies) and the cultural politics of landscape (including questions of place, community, and heritage) in relation to spatial theory. A third area of interest is the intersection between people, nature, culture and landscape…
So we're obviously beyond just maps. We're talking interdisciplinary studies.
Erasing artificial boundaries between disciplines is not just for geographers. We have a Fulbright anthropologist here in Tangier who is doing groundbreaking work in coming to understand the world of the truckers who ply the routes to and from Tangier-Med's huge container port. Her work requires knowledge of economics, sociology, and especially human resources. Again, not just ethnology or tribal customs.
So too for our cultural geographer from Wageningen, Washingtonian Dr. Lauren Wagner (photo, talking with the Utrecht students), who is investigating"the geographies of tourism in Morocco from a colonial/post-colonial perspective, recent urban development in Tangier, particularly the housing related to diasporic Moroccans visiting from Europe during summer holidays, and trying to develop a project that looks at their impact on Moroccan cities. Tangier is a particularly vivid example of this."
It might be our collection of ancient maps that brings them to the Legation, but it is definitely urgent, contemporary problems that stimulate their research. Geographers welcome!