PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (2): 193-206.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2017.02.006

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The development process of human geography in China from the perspective of book publication in the over past one hundred years

Jun SUN1(), Maolin TANG2,*(), Tingting ZHANG2   

  1. 1. College of Tourism and Geographical Sciences, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China
    2. School of Geographical Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
  • Online:2017-02-20 Published:2017-02-20
  • Contact: Maolin TANG;
  • Supported by:
    Major Project of National Philosophy and Social Science Foundation of China, No.16ZDA041;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41261033; No.41261044; No.41271197


The survey of the trajectory of Chinese human geography in recent documentation was mainly abstracted from the published journal articles, and confined to the past three decades. Based on the data of book publication since 1912, however, this paper extended the time quantum, and finds that: (1) the research period could be divided into three phases according the total publication number, 1912-1940 (traditional fields slow-growth), 1941-1980 (few publication, and no new fields), 1981-2015 (increase rapidly, and new fields promoted the growth of publication number); (2) to the time stability among different fields, political geography was the most stable one, while the others expressed evident fluctuation; (3) the periodical characters could be expressed as “basis in advance, society influence latish, and applying promoting finally,” “basis in advance” means books on historical, methodological, theoretical, and philosophical issues were published primarily at the first stage, and then kept a certain percentage, “society influence latish” means the social factors had an evident impact on the quantity and quality of publication increasingly, “applying promoting finally” indicates the growth of publication was driven by applied research more and more; (4) growing steadily since 1981, and historical geography, cultural geography, tourism geography and GIS played an important role in publishing and promoting the formation of new cross-disciplinary fields, ethnical geography and frontier geography, however, was delayed; (5) currently, the publication of different fields of human geography in China is unbalanced. According to these trajectories, the paper concludes that: (1) as a typical cross-discipline, different fields in Chinese human geography have different tendencies to natural science, social science and humanities, this orientation is beneficial to enhance Chinese human geography’s role to sciences and humanities; (2) the development of Chinese human geography was deeply affected by social facts, and Chinese geographers have paid more and more attention to applied research, with some fields weakened, and Chinese geographers should pay closer attention to coordinate the proportionality among different fields of Chinese human geography in the future.

Key words: book publication, human geography, development process, science and society, China, 1912-2015