Integrating Geography and History

At our last Alliance event, Dr. Vernon Domingo shared some fantastic resources on the importance of geographic and spatial thinking for history (See his slides here which he generously here: Geography and History) .  We were delighted to see the world famous EarthView, Bridgewater State’s 25-foot inflatable globe (pictures of the event below).  Additionally, Dr. Domingo shared the following poem by Kit Salter, a pioneer in network of geographic alliances/  This poem is a magnificent  expression of how geography and history are to be intertwined.

Thoughts on Geographic Integration by Christopher (Kit) Salter

How can there be a separate scene,
For history without place
How can there be events in time,
For which there is no space?

Take trade, take wars, take marketplace,
And shape them without land;
Give thought to all the stories told,
But delete their settings grand.

Chart human growth and outward reach,
Then strip away the grid
That serves as anchor for all sites
…All order will be hid.

Show generations marching on
—Their flag of clan held high—
But if you mask their sense of plane,
Their family sagas die.

Give birth to cities grey and great,
And list their peoples’ skill.
But fail to show their debt to land—
Each place falls quickly still.

Seek art, seek love, seek any muse,
But seek it with no place,
And soon you’ll note it will not nest—
For simple lack of space.

Or, turn your head and look afield,
At sights both far and near.
But when you close out Mother Earth,
You’ll see there’s nothing here.

Look to the past, to times gone by,
Chart a date…a name…
Ignore the settings for such times,
And the mind will stake no claim.

The math of time without some ground,
Is a set both void and null.
The thought of people unattached to place,
Is as empty as it is dull.

The Grapes of Wrath with no concern
For farmstead, road, or land,
Would be an empty vessel, All,
Untutoring…and bland.

The immigrant’s view of distant shores
Is not summoned by a date…
Its strength and power to remove
Comes from its landed fate.

The glint in Pizarro’s watchful eye
The strength of Cortez so bold,
Both gained their marked motive force,
From tales of land oft told.

Crusades, The Grail, the Holy Land,
All gain their badge from place.
Chronicles of year out, year in,
Cross minds, but leave no trace.

Even moments of this day,
And thoughts of who we are,
Are all suffused with spatial points,
“Where’s your home…how far?”

So…if you ask me to explain
Just why I’ve built my case
For geography’s bond with history—
It’s to link all time with space.

I see the flow of human tide
Awash in the sands of place;
I cannot see an ordered world
Without full nod to space.

So, when thinking of you point of view,
When trying to shape a mind,
Recall that what has gone before,
Had space, full touched by time.

And even, as historians claim,
To know the past makes free…
You must learn the past in tandem reads:
…History with geography.

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