Introduction: Today Human Geography Full of Questions…

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This collection of essays cannot be fully understood without the narrative that has brought six well-known geographers and one sociologist to deliver lectures at the Department of Human Geography and Regional Development of the University of Ostrava in autumn 2008.

The Department of Human Geography and Regional Development at the University of Ostrava has simultaneously a long and a short history. The long part goes back to the 1950s when it was established as part of the Faculty of Education. The activities of the Department, either educationalor research oriented, were then limited by the ruling ideology of the communist party towards not only human geography but also all other social sciences. The only paradigm that was officially allowed to be cultivated was that of geographical empiricism–data stockpiling. It could help you to win on “Do you want to be a millionaire?“ but it was far away from Western geographical thinking slowly heading to the position of social criticism. The short story begins after the Velvet revolution with the disappearance of all ideological/political barriers to theoretical thinking.

But not all barriers have disappeared. Especially not for the city of Ostrava–a peripheral, structurally afflicted, heavily industrialized region, with a countryside remodelled by black coal mining, somewhere in the eastern part of the country, close to the borders with Poland and Slovakia, six hours by train from Prague (within a Czech context = very very far), without a motorway, with people speaking an unintelligible dialect and the terrible image of a “black city” due to its pollution.

In these circumstances our department has been developing hand-inhand together with the whole region. After a decade of intensive quantitative growth, the Ostrava region now attracts a considerable amount of foreign investment and the city has become a centre of immigration. The number of staff members at our department has doubled to 20 full time and 15 external lecturers and we have four hundred students enrolled in bachelor, master and doctoral degree programmes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Chapters of Modern Human Geographical Thought
    Chapters of Modern Geographical Thought is a compilation of original, state-of-the-art essays written by recognized scholars, covering a wide range of topics from human geography, always paying tribute to the multidisciplinary nature of the field. This book will provide students with penetrating analyses of seven fields, including critical geopolitics of film and affect, the political economy of the environment, ethnic problems in the Caucasus, the US and Mexico relations, new social movements in Southern Africa or identity politics and the legal recognition of the Silesian minority in Poland. All the essays emphasize the interconnectedness of a globalized world.
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