Maddrell A, 2006, "Revisiting the region: ‘ordinary’ and ‘exceptional’ regions in the work of Hilda Ormsby 1917 – 1940" Environment and Planning A 38(9) 1739 – 1752
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Revisiting the region: ‘ordinary’ and ‘exceptional’ regions in the work of Hilda Ormsby 1917 – 1940
Received 12 June 2004; in revised form 8 April 2005
Abstract. Increased interest in and recognition of the value of the region and particularly the ‘ordinary region’ as opposed to more-glamorous ‘exceptional regions’ encourages us to reexplore the nature and purpose of what could be described as the first methodological blueprint of modern British geographical enquiry. Received histories of geography which give the impression of the production of geographical knowledge as a (near) universal male domain and the post-1960s critique of the regional approach as descriptive and nonhermeneutical have combined to make invisible the geographical work of most women (and some men) working in British universities in the first half of the 20th century. Despite this, insights can clearly be gained from biographical studies of both ‘ordinary’ geographers like Hilda Ormsby and the epistemology of the ‘ordinary region’. This allows for a richer and more-nuanced critical historiography of geography, but there is also a potentially fruitful reciprocity in conversation between that history of geographical ideas and explorations of economic alterity. Regional studies which may have been dismissed as ‘merely descriptive’ can be found to articulate detailed accounts of local socioeconomic practices giving evidence of the historical grounding for current economic standing, including complex and sometimes resistant interaction with dominant modes of economic ‘success’.
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