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Interrogating the ordinary

Somebody said to me this week that their idea of geography was different from mine, because they were “interrogating the ordinary”. Or they might have said “interrogating the obvious”  – you’d really think I should have remembered, but perhaps I was distracted from exactly what they were saying because I was too busy thinking about it, and disagreeing with them. I think that interrogating the ordinary is part of what I do, too. But then, many people do want to be different, and to define a patch for the way we think that is different from how other people think. Certainly most geographers I know are like that: very keen to say how their way of geography is different from somebody else’s. Oh no, I’m a cultural geographer, so I don’t see things the way you do, you’re a physical geographer. Here’s a label that I am attaching to you: live by it, as I will assume you to do. So anyway the next day I gave a talk to a bunch of strangers and I started with “Hello: I’m a Physical Geographer and I interrogate the ordinary. Human Geographers do the same thing”. I suppose the difference comes when we choose which things are ordinary, and which of the ordinary things are worthy of interrogation.

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