RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017


354 Clarence Glacken’s ‘Traces on the Rhodian Shore’ at 50: Nature, Culture and ‘Western Thought’
Convenor(s) Philip Conway (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Chair(s) Philip Conway (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Timetable Friday 01 September 2017, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Session abstract With the subtitle ‘Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century,’ Clarence Glacken’s ‘Traces on the Rhodian Shore’ casts a long shadow on the history of geographical ideas, even after half a century. Published in 1967, this 700+ page monolith remains unsurpassed in its genre.

However, what is its relevance today? If its sheer heft is incontrovertible, what about its methods? Do its wide-ranging interpretations still stand up to scrutiny? More pointedly, if we are to set about ‘decolonising geographical knowledges’ then what is the place of such a longitudinal history of ‘Western Thought,’ however erudite?

In one telling footnote, Glacken confesses: “I have reluctantly omitted discussion of Ibn Khaldūn. His ideas belong to Arab thought and not to the West, least of all in this period” (p.255). Such a partitioning of knowledge traditions was questionable in 1967 and, to say the least, is even more so today.

This roundtable session will feature several expert panellists who will be invited to reflect on their encounter with Glacken’s text, their valuation of it in the context of the history of geographical ideas and, most importantly, how this text speaks to contemporary problems and debates.

However, the majority of this session will be given to open discussion with audience participation. We hope to not only consider the relevance of ‘Traces’ to contemporary scholarship but, moreover, to take its anniversary as a starting point for rethinking the history of geographical ideas beyond the West.
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2017@rgs.org
Roundtable Discussion
Innes Keighren (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Georgina Endfield (The University of Liverpool, UK)
David Livingstone (Queen's University Belfast, UK)