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Carl Sauer 's Notion Of A Cultural Landscape And Why Is It Useful For Understanding The World?

Better Essays
Terrence McLaughlin
Landscapes, Place and People
Dr. Harriot Beazley
28 August 2015

What is Carl Sauer’s notion of a cultural landscape and why is it useful for understanding the world?

Carl Sauer, one of the foremost geography scholars of the 20th century theorized that the defining characteristics of a “cultural landscape” differed from those of his predecessors. His findings, while contradictory to some of the most respected academics of his time, helped create an entirely new way of thinking within the discipline (Sauer 1925). However, the influence of Sauer’s work extended well beyond the confines of any one discipline. He helped establish landscape studies in cultural geography and strongly advocated for a “responsible stewardship of the sustaining earth.” Additionally, he supplied an esthetic rationale and a historical perspective to the environmental movement. His theory denounced the previously supported theory of environmental determinism, and suggested that cultural landscapes are shaped by humans, as well as many other cultural aspects. In a more complex sense Sauer proposed that cultural landscapes are the product of the human population, and that the actions of humans and define the environment in which we all live. In his own words, Sauer states that “Culture is the agent, the natural area is the medium. The cultural landscape the result.”

Since Sauer first introduced his theory of cultural landscapes in 1925, much has changed in the way our society thinks
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