Navigating together without a map: Metaphors for making Geography’s future

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This article sets the scene for the 10 papers comprising the special issue ‘‘Geographical research for the 21st century: trajectories and possibilities’. It asks the hoary question, ‘by what means, and to what ends, should Geography be directed?’. It does not, however, venture a substantive response because there is no single answer that will suffice. Instead, the article offers resources for those seeking to respond to this question. It identifies 12 parameters that define the ‘operating space’ that most geographers worldwide now have to act within, like
it or not. These parameters not only impose constraints but also offer opportunities. The article then focuses on metaphors that might help us better understand who we are as a research and teaching community: after all, metaphors can distil the essence of our ongoing preoccupations. I venture a ‘new ecological’ metaphor that might enable accuracy and hope in our self-understanding as we enter the third decade of an already extraordinary century. It may seem paradoxical to say, but we can navigate forward purposefully without a map, avoiding the polar opposites of an infeasible disciplinary unity and an undesirable Balkanisation of our activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-13
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment and Planning F
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


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