World Regional Geography
Posted: September 22, 2017 | Updated: October 4, 2021
Author: Caitlin Finlayson, University of Mary Washington
World Regional Geography presents an overview of the discipline by introducing students to key themes and concepts in the discipline of geography through a study of the world’s regions. This text approaches geography as experts understand the discipline, focusing on connections and an in-depth understanding of core themes. This thematic approach, informed by pedagogical research, provides students with an introduction to thinking geographically. This text emphasizes depth over breadth by arranging each chapter around a central theme and then exploring that theme in detail as it applies to the particular region. In addition, while chapters are designed to stand alone and be rearranged or eliminated at the instructor’s discretion, the theme of globalization and inequality unites all of the regions discussed. This core focus enables students to draw connections between regions and to better understand the interconnectedness of our world. This text was written with the backward course design model in mind and the content of each chapter was structured around these learning objectives. Because of this backward design focus, the length of each chapter is considerably shorter than most traditional textbooks. The intention is for the instructor to supplement the text with problems, case studies, and news articles and to use the text as a springboard for discussing deeper issues.
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3.9 / 5
Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary
While the book’s ambitious attempt to tell a more or less singular story of all of the regions of the world is successful in the sense that every major geographical region is discussed, I would have preferred an introductory-level book of this nature to include more self-introspection. In the intro, for example, it would have been a refreshing addition to the book if geography’s history of facilitating colonial ventures were discussed at least in brief.
Comprehensiveness Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased
I do not feel that it is appropriate for a geography textbook, especially one that describes colonial histories, indigenous dispossession of land, and various forms of inequality across multiple locations, to claim a lack of bias. Within our discipline, the concept of situated knowledge is an important one that is frequently discussed and debated. All knowledge is political, but especially geographical knowledge. A book like this should at least briefly explain the concept of situated knowledge as an important transition into discussion of world regions and how they are understood in geography.
P. 26 claims that the 10 most populous cities in the world are located in countries traditionally categorized as developing. Surely Tokyo is to be included in this list, and if so the wording should say “the great majority”. Otherwise perhaps include a footnote explaining that Tokyo-Yokohama is considered a “metropolitan area” and not a city.
Content Accuracy Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement
Simple additions should be sufficient to update.
Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used
The text is relatively jargon-free and does a good job of defining terms for lay readers.
Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework
The text is consistent in the terminology that it uses and in its framework.
Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
It is easy to begin reading the text at any point in the book.
Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion
The last paragraph on P. 59 should come before the second to last paragraph.
Organization Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader
No significant issues.
Interface Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text contains no grammatical errors
There were a few grammatical and wording errors that have been reported to the author.
Grammar Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds
There are no explicitly offensive references in the text although its approach to genders is somewhat lacking.
Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?
The book’s oscillation between the dual themes of globalization and inequality allows for discussion of a wide range of topics while staying within an appropriately sized parameter for an undergraduate course. However, the book brushes over some considerable opportunities for discussion of how geography as a discipline has and continues to interact with and facilitate to these two axioms. For example, in chapter 1 the introduction, the author goes to great lengths to discuss map making in terms of scale, technologies used, and uses of the map, however the politics of mapping, and the role of mapping in producing inequalities is only briefly touched upon on page 20. Similarly, in chapter 2 while discussing the development of Europe over the last 500 years, the chapter only dedicates one sentence to European colonial exploitation and focuses very heavily on the Industrial Revolution and the Agrarian Revolution, entirely brushing over the role of the transatlantic slave trade and triangular trade in building up colonial European states, another missed opportunity to illustrate how different forms of globalization over history have both linked distant places and created inequalities that persist today. While the transatlantic slave trade’s outcomes are discussed vis-à-vis sub-Saharan Africa nations, it would have been useful to include more of a critique of their outcomes for European states as well.
In the introduction, the book states the use of singular they as a gender-inclusive pronoun format, yet I could not locate any instance in the book where this was actually used, so this declaration comes off as tokenizing. Furthermore, the discussion of gender and sex on P. 193 reinforces a very binary understanding of these descriptors (as does the glossary’s definition of gender), which some students and teachers will likely find problematic. It would be appropriate to include that these categories are contested, socially constructed and therefore subject to change over time and across different cultural landscapes.
Overall the book constitutes an appropriate introductory geography text, with good coverage of major geographical formations and human geographical developments in a range of locations.