Carl O. Sauer

Carl O. Sauer

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Carl Ortwin Sauer was an American geographer
Geographer
A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

. Sauer was a professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 of geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 at the University of California at Berkeley from 1923 until becoming professor emeritus
Emeritus
Emeritus is a post-positive adjective that is used to designate a retired professor, bishop, or other professional or as a title. The female equivalent emerita is also sometimes used.-History:...

 in 1957 and was instrumental in the early development of the geography graduate school at Berkeley. One of his best known works was Agricultural Origins and Dispersals (1952). In 1927, Carl Sauer wrote the article "Recent Developments in Cultural Geography," which considered how cultural landscapes are made up of "the forms superimposed on the physical landscape."

Early years


He was born in Warrenton, Missouri
Warrenton, Missouri
Warrenton is a city in Warren County, Missouri, United States. The population was estimated at 7,398 in 2008. It is the county seat of Warren County. Warrenton is located in the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area. Warrenton's slogan is "A City for All Seasons."-Geography:Warrenton is located...

 and graduated from the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 with a Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 in 1915.

Career


Carl Sauer's paper "The Morphology of Landscape" was probably the most influential in developing ideas on cultural landscapes
Cultural landscape
Cultural Landscapes have been defined by the World Heritage Committee as distinct geographical areas or properties uniquely "..represent[ing] the combined work of nature and of man.."....

 and is still cited today. However, Sauer's paper was really about his own vision for the discipline of geography, which was to establish the discipline on a phenomenological
Phenomenology (science)
The term phenomenology in science is used to describe a body of knowledge that relates empirical observations of phenomena to each other, in a way that is consistent with fundamental theory, but is not directly derived from theory. For example, we find the following definition in the Concise...

 basis, rather than being specifically concerned with cultural landscapes. "Every field of knowledge is characterized by its declared preoccupation with a certain group of phenomena,” according to Sauer. Geography was assigned the study of areal knowledge or landscapes or chorology
Chorology
Chorology can mean* the study of the causal relations between geographical phenomena occurring within a particular region* the study of the spatial distribution of organisms....

. “Within each landscape there are phenomena that are not simply there but are either associated or independent of each other.” Sauer saw the geographer’s task as being to discover the areal connection between phenomena. Thus "the task of geography is conceived as the establishment of a critical system which embraces the phenomenology of landscape, in order to grasp in all of its meaning and colour the varied terrestrial scene"

Sauer was a fierce critic of environmental determinism
Environmental determinism
Environmental determinism, also known as climatic determinism or geographical determinism, is the view that the physical environment, rather than social conditions, determines culture...

, which was the prevailing theory in geography when he began his career. He proposed instead an approach variously called "landscape morphology" or "cultural history." This approach involved the inductive gathering of facts about the human impact on the landscape over time. Sauer rejected positivism
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

, preferring particularist
Historical particularism
Historical Particularism is widely considered the first American anthropological school of thought.Founded by Franz Boas, historical particularism rejected the cultural evolutionary model that had dominated...

 and historicist understandings of the world. He drew on the work of anthropologist
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 Alfred Kroeber, and later critics accused him of introducing a "superorganic" concept of culture into geography. Politically Sauer was a conservative, and expressed concern about the way that modern capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 and centralized government
Centralized government
A centralized or centralised government is one in which power or legal authority is exerted or coordinated by a de facto political executive to which federal states, local authorities, and smaller units are considered subject...

 were destroying the cultural diversity
Cultural diversity
Cultural diversity is having different cultures respect each other's differences. It could also mean the variety of human societies or cultures in a specific region, or in the world as a whole...

 and environmental health of the world. He believed that agriculture, and domestication of plants and animals had an effect on the physical environment.

After his retirement, Sauer's school of human-environment geography developed into cultural ecology
Cultural ecology
Cultural ecology studies the relationship between a given society and its natural environment as well as the life-forms and ecosystems that support its lifeways . This may be carried out diachronically , or synchronically...

, political ecology
Political ecology
Political ecology is the study of the relationships between political, economic and social factors with environmental issues and changes. Political ecology differs from apolitical ecological studies by politicizing environmental issues and phenomena....

, and historical ecology
Historical ecology
Historical ecology is a research program that focuses on the interaction between humans and the environments in which they live. Rather than concentrating on one specific event, historical ecology aims to study and understand this interaction across both time and space in order to gain a full...

. Cultural ecology retained Sauer's interest in human modification of the landscape and pre-modern cultures.

Awards


He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the American Geographical Society
American Geographical Society
The American Geographical Society is an organization of professional geographers, founded in 1851 in New York City. Most fellows of the society are Americans, but among them have always been a significant number of fellows from around the world...

 in 1935, and its Daly Medal in 1940.

Graduate Students


Sauer graduated many doctoral students, the majority completing dissertations on Latin American and Caribbean topics and thereby founding the Berkeley School of Latin Americanist Geography
Berkeley School of Latin Americanist Geography
The Berkeley School of Latin Americanist Geography was founded by the American geographer Carl O. Sauer. Sauer was a professor of geography at the University of California at Berkeley from 1923 until becoming professor emeritus in 1957 and was instrumental in the early development of the geography...

. The first generation consisted of Sauer's own students: Fred Kniffen (1930), Peveril Meigs (1932), Donald Brand (1933), Henry Bruman (1940), Felix W. McBryde (1940), Robert Bowman (1941), Dan Stanislawski (1944), Robert C. West (1946), James J. Parsons (1948), Edwin Doran (1953), Philip Wagner (1953), Brigham Arnold (1954), Homer Aschmann (1954), B. LeRoy Gordon (1954), Gordon Merrill (1957), Donald Innis (1958), Carl Johannessen (1959),Clinton Edwards (1962), and Leonard Sawatzky (1967).

Among them, Parsons remained at the University of California at Berkeley and became the most prolific among the first generation in terms of directing Latin Americanist doctoral dissertations. His Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

s formed the second generation of the Berkeley School of Latin Americanist Geography
Berkeley School of Latin Americanist Geography
The Berkeley School of Latin Americanist Geography was founded by the American geographer Carl O. Sauer. Sauer was a professor of geography at the University of California at Berkeley from 1923 until becoming professor emeritus in 1957 and was instrumental in the early development of the geography...

: Campbell Pennington (1959), William Denevan (1963), David Harris (1963), Thomas Veblen (1975), and Karl Zimmerer (1987).

Denevan became a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in turn, produced the majority of the third generation: Daniel Gade (1967), Bernard Nietschmann (1970), Roger Byrne (1972), Roland Bergmann (1974), Billie Lee Turner II (1974), Gregory Knapp (1984), Kent Mathewson (1987), John M. Treacy (1989), and Oliver Coomes (1992).

A member of the fourth generation, William E. Doolittle
William E. Doolittle
William E. Doolittle is an American geographer who is prominent among the fourth generation of the Berkeley School of Latin Americanist Geography. He is currently the Erich W. Zimmermann Regents Professor in Geography at the Department of Geography and the Environment at University of Texas at Austin...

 studied with Billie Lee Turner II, earned the Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 in 1979, became a professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment at University of Texas at Austin
Department of Geography and the Environment at University of Texas at Austin
The Department of Geography and The Environment at The University of Texas at Austin is a division unit of the College of Liberal Arts. The Department was founded in 1949 and is a research focused institution with a well-developed graduate program...

, and has extended the school into the fifth generation: Dean P. Lambert (1992), Andrew Sluyter
Andrew Sluyter
Andrew Sluyter is an American social scientist and professor in the Geography and Anthropology Department of the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. His interests are the environmental history and historical ecology of the colonization of the Americas...

 (1995), Emily H. Young (1995), Eric P. Perramond (1999), Phil L. Crossley (1999), Jerry O. (Joby) Bass (2003), Maria G. Fadiman (2003), and Matthew Fry (2008).

Further reading

  • Carl Sauer on Culture and Landscape:Readings and Commentaries, edited by William M. Denevan and Kent Mathewson. Baton Rouge, LA:Louisiana State University Press
    Louisiana State University Press
    The Louisiana State University Press is a nonprofit book publisher and an academic unit of Louisiana State University. Founded in 1935, the press publishes scholarly, general interest, and regional books as part of the university’s mission to disseminate knowledge and culture...

    , 2009 ISBN 978-0-8071-3394-1.
  • Culture, Land, and Legacy: Perspectives on Carl Sauer and Berkeley School Geography, edited by Kent Mathewson and Martin S. Kenzer. Baton Rouge, LA: Geoscience Publications, 2003.
  • Carl O. Sauer: Northern Mists, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1968.
  • Carl O. Sauer: The Early Spanish Main, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1966.
  • Carl O. Sauer: Agricultural Origins and Dispersals, American Geographical Society, 1952.

External links