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Volume 61 / Social Sciences

GEOGRAPHY: GENERAL


KENT MATHEWSON, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University


THE NUMBER OF GEOGRAPHICAL PUBLICATIONS that focus on the turn of the century (and millennium) in Latin America are fewer this biennium than one might have imagined. Nonetheless, at least one notable volume keying on this marker did appear (item #bi2004001563#). Latin America in the 21st Century: Challenges and Solutions, the fourth decadal benchmark volume of the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers, observes the 2000 gathering of the organization with a forward-looking, rather than retrospective, focus. A set of three major reference volumes surveying native cultivated landscapes of the Americas, originally commissioned to mark the Columbus Quincentennial, were issued by Oxford University Press in 2000–2001. Denevan (South America; see HLAS 59:2534), Whitmore and Turner (Middle America; see item #bi2004001573#), and Doolittle (North America, with an emphasis on the American Southwest) offer comprehensive inventories and interpretations of the state and nature of cultivated landscapes throughout the Americas at the onset of European conquest. This trilogy will serve not only as encyclopedic guides to their various topics (especially field types and technologies, including intensive systems such as raised and drained fields, terraces, and irrigation works, as well as shifting cultivation methods), but also to the attendant literature. The occasional lacunae should spur new research. Collectively, these volumes constitute one of the most comprehensive and ambitious undertakings in the realm of Latin Americanist geography in recent memory.

The bicentennial of Alexander von Humboldt's travels in Latin America (1799–1804) has stimulated a wealth of conferences, symposia, art and book exhibits, website launchings, and field excursions in a number of nations, but follow-up publications have been slow in appearing. Sites and titles of these events include: "Humboldts Südamerikareise, 1799–1804" (Innsbruck, April 4, 1999); "Humboldt en America" (Universidad de Chile, Sept. 29–30, 1999); "Alexander von Humboldt's Natural History Legacy and Its Relevance for Today" (Boston University, Oct. 8–9, 1999); "Homenaje a Alexander von Humboldt en los 200 años de su expedición a nuestro territorio" (Universidad de Cauca, Oct. 2001); "Alexander von Humboldt: From the Americas to the Cosmos" (Oct. 14–16, 2004). Special issues of various publications have been devoted to Humboldtian themes. For example, the first issue of a new serial from the Fundación Histórica Tavera, Debate y perspectivas: cuadernos de historia y ciencias sociales (no. 1, dic. 2000, Spain), is titled "Alejandro de Humboldt y el mundo hispánico," and contains 11 articles on Humboldt's work and ideology. Themed excursions with Humboldtian content were conducted in Venezuela (July–Sept. 1998) and Cuba (March 4–10, 1999) among other locations. A major multidisciplinary Humboldt commemorative expedition sponsored by German, Brazilian, and Venezuelan institutions was undertaken in Amazonia (Oct. 1998–March 1999). A German sailing school sponsored a voyage on the Alexander von Humboldt retracing much of Humboldt's nautical itinerary from the Canary Islands to, and through, the Caribbean (Oct. 1998–March 1999). A number of websites devoted to Humboldt and Humboldtiana have been established in the wake of the bicentennial. Some, such as the site Alexander von Humboldt im Netz (University of Potsdam) appear to be more than ephemeral (see http://www.uni-potsdam.de/u/romanistik/humboldt/). In addition, at least one continuing annual geographical conference, Encuentro Internacional Humboldt, hosted its first year (1999) by the El Centro de Estudios Alexander von Humboldt (Buenos Aires), was inspired by the bicentennial.

After a nearly two decade run (1984–2001), the Yearbook, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (CLAG) was superceded in 2002 by the Journal of Latin American Geography. JLAG's volume 1, number 1 featured five articles, six book reviews, and four award presentation texts. The new CLAG editorial team of David Keeling, Diana Liverman, and Karl Zimmerer hopes to provide a forum for Latin Americanist geographical research and commentary that will reach a wider audience than CLAG's Yearbook. CLAG continues to organize well-attended meetings: Santa Fe, New Mexico (Oct. 1998); Austin, Texas (Jan. 2000); Benicassim, Spain (June 2001); Tucson, Arizona (Jan. 2003); and Antigua, Guatemala (May 2004).


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