In anthropology and geography, a cultural region, cultural sphere, cultural area or culture area refers to a geography with one relatively homogeneous human activity or complex of activities (culture). These are often associated with an ethnolinguistic group and the territory it inhabits. Specific cultures often do not limit their geographic coverage to the borders of a nation state, or to smaller subdivisions of a state. Cultural "spheres of influence" may also overlap or form concentric structures of macrocultures encompassing smaller local cultures. Different boundaries may also be drawn depending on the particular aspect of interest, such as religion and folklore vs. dress and architecture vs. language.
Anthropology is the scientific study of humans and human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology and cultural anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life. Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.
Geography is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the word γεωγραφία was Eratosthenes. Geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but also how they have changed and come to be.
Culture is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. Cultural universals are found in all human societies; these include expressive forms like art, music, dance, ritual, religion, and technologies like tool usage, cooking, shelter, and clothing. The concept of material culture covers the physical expressions of culture, such as technology, architecture and art, whereas the immaterial aspects of culture such as principles of social organization, mythology, philosophy, literature, and science comprise the intangible cultural heritage of a society.
Cultural areas are not considered equivalent to Kulturkreis (Culture circles).
The Kulturkreis school was a central idea of the early 20th-century Austrian school of anthropology that sought to redirect the discipline away from the quest for an underlying, universal human nature toward a concern with the particular histories of individual societies. It was the notion of a culture complex as an entity that develops from a centre of origin and becomes diffused over large areas of the world.
A culture area is a concept in cultural anthropology in which a geographic region and time sequence (age area) is characterized by substantially uniform environment and culture.The concept of culture areas was originated by museum curators and ethnologists during the late 1800s as means of arranging exhibits. Clark Wissler and Alfred Kroeber further developed the concept on the premise that they represent longstanding cultural divisions. The concept is criticized by some, who argue that the basis for classification is arbitrary. But other researchers disagree and the organization of human communities into cultural areas remains a common practice throughout the social sciences. The definition of culture areas is enjoying a resurgence of practical and theoretical interest as social scientists conduct more research on processes of cultural globalization.
Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology focused on the study of cultural variation among humans. It is in contrast to social anthropology, which perceives cultural variation as a subset of the anthropological constant.
The age-area hypothesis is a concept in cultural anthropology that cultural traits tend to expand outward from their origin with time. Thus, the larger an area that a trait is found in, the older it is.
Clark David Wissler was an American anthropologist.
A formal culture region is an area inhabited by people who have one or more cultural traits in common, such as language, religion, or system of livelihood. It is an area relatively homogeneous with regard to one or more cultural traits. The geographer who identifies a formal culture region must locate cultural borders. Because cultures overlap and mix, such boundaries are rarely sharp even if only one cultural trait is mapped and so there are cultural border zones, rather than lines. The zones broaden with each additional cultural trait that is considered because no two traits have the same spatial distribution. As a result, instead of having clear borders, formal culture regions reveal a center or core, where the defining traits are all present. Away from the central core, the characteristics weaken and disappear. Thus, many formal culture regions display a core-periphery.
Language is a system that consists of the development, acquisition, maintenance and use of complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so; and a language is any specific example of such a system.
Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.
In contrast to the abstract cultural homogeneity of a formal culture region, a functional culture region may not be culturally homogeneous; instead, it is an area that has been organized to function politically, socially, or economically as one unit: a city, an independent state, a precinct, a church diocese or parish, a trade area or a farm. Functional culture regions have nodes or central points where the functions are coordinated and directed, such as city halls, national capitols, precinct voting places, parish churches, factories, and banks. In that sense, functional regions also possess a core-periphery configuration, in common with formal culture regions. Many functional regions have clearly defined borders that include all land under the jurisdiction of a particular urban government that is clearly delineated on a regional map by a line distinguishing between one jurisdiction and another.
A city is a large human settlement. Cities generally have extensive systems for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, land use, and communication. Their density facilitates interaction between people, government organizations and businesses, sometimes benefiting different parties in the process.
An urban area or urban agglomeration is a human settlement with high population density and infrastructure of built environment. Urban areas are created through urbanization and are categorized by urban morphology as cities, towns, conurbations or suburbs. In urbanism, the term contrasts to rural areas such as villages and hamlets and in urban sociology or urban anthropology it contrasts with natural environment. The creation of early predecessors of urban areas during the urban revolution led to the creation of human civilization with modern urban planning, which along with other human activities such as exploitation of natural resources leads to human impact on the environment.
Vernacular, popular or perceptual cultural regions are those perceived to exist by their inhabitants, as is evident by the widespread acceptance and use of a distinctive regional name. Some vernacular regions are based on physical environmental features; others find their basis in economic, political or historical characteristics. Vernacular regions, like most culture regions, generally lack sharp borders, and the inhabitants of any given area may claim residence in more than one such region. It grows out of people's sense of belonging and identification with a particular region. An American example is "Dixie". They often lack the organization necessary for functional regions although they may be centered on a single urban node. They frequently do not display the cultural homogeneity that characterizes formal regions.
Dixie is a nickname for the Southern United States, especially those states that composed the Confederate States of America. The term originally referred simply to the states south of the Mason–Dixon line, but now is more of a cultural reference, referring to parts of the United States that "feel" southern.
Allen Noble gave a summary of the concept development of cultural regions using the terms "cultural hearth" (no origin of this term given), "cultural core" by Donald W. Meinigfor Mormon culture published in 1970 and "source area" by Fred Kniffen (1965) and later Henry Glassie (1968) for house and barn types. Outside of a core area he quoted Meinigs' use of the terms "domain" (a dominant area) and "sphere" (area influenced but not dominant).
A cultural boundary (also cultural border) in ethnology is a geographical boundary between two identifiable ethnic or ethnolinguistic cultures. A language border is necessarily also a cultural border, as language is a significant part of a society's culture)l, but it can also divide subgroups of the same ethnolinguistic group along more subtle criteria, such as the Brünig-Napf-Reuss line in German-speaking Switzerland, the Weißwurstäquator in Germany or the Grote rivieren boundary between Dutch and Flemish culture.
In the history of Europe, the major cultural boundaries are found:
Macro-cultures on a continental scale are also referred to as "worlds," "spheres," or "civilizations," such as the Muslim world.
In a modern context, a cultural boundary can also be a division between subcultures or classes within a given society, such as blue collar vs. white collar etc.
Cultural boundaries sometimes define the difference between friend and foe in political and military conflicts. Ethnic nationalism and pan-nationalism sometimes seek to unify all native speakers of a particular language, who are conceived of as a coherent ethnic group or nation, into a single nation-state with a unified culture. The association of an ethnolinguistic group with a nation-state may be written into nationality laws and repatriation laws, which establish eligibility for citizenship based on ethnicity, rather than place of birth.
In other cases, attempts have been made to divide countries based on cultural boundaries by secession or partition. For example, the Quebec sovereignty movement seeks to separate French-speaking province from English-speaking Canada to preserve its unique language and culture, and the Partition of India created separate majority-Hindu and majority-Muslim countries.
A music area is a cultural area defined according to musical activity. It may or may not conflict with the cultural areas assigned to a given region. The world may be divided into three large music areas, each containing a "cultivated" or classical musics "that are obviously its most complex musical forms," with, nearby, folk styles which interact with the cultivated, and, on the perimeter, primitive styles:
However, he then adds that "the world-wide development of music must have been a unified process in which all peoples participated" and that one finds similar tunes and traits in puzzlingly isolated or separated locations throughout the world.
Edward Sapir was an American anthropologist-linguist, who is widely considered to be one of the most important figures in the early development of the discipline of linguistics.
The Scandinavian Peninsula is a peninsula of Eurasia located in Northern Europe, which roughly comprises the mainland of Sweden, the mainland of Norway, and the northwestern area of Finland.
In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics, human impact characteristics, and the interaction of humanity and the environment. Geographic regions and sub-regions are mostly described by their imprecisely defined, and sometimes transitory boundaries, except in human geography, where jurisdiction areas such as national borders are defined in law.
An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, society, culture or nation. Ethnicity is usually an inherited status based on the society in which one lives. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language or dialect, symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, art or physical appearance.
The term "Old World" is used commonly in the West to refer to Africa, Asia and Europe, regarded collectively as the part of the world known to its population before contact with the Americas and Oceania. It is used in the context of, and contrasts with, the New World.
Ethnolinguistics is a field of linguistics that studies the relationship between language and culture and how different ethnic groups perceive the world. It is the combination between ethnology and linguistics. The former refers to the way of life of an entire community: all the characteristics that distinguish one community from the other. Such characteristics make the cultural aspects of a community or a society.
Alfred Louis Kroeber was an American cultural anthropologist. He received his Ph.D. under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, the first doctorate in anthropology awarded by Columbia. He was also the first professor appointed to the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He played an integral role in the early days of its Museum of Anthropology, where he served as director from 1909 through 1947. Kroeber provided detailed information about Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi people, whom he studied over a period of years. He was the father of the acclaimed novelist, poet, and writer of short stories Ursula K. Le Guin.
Northwestern Europe, or Northwest Europe, is a loosely defined region of Europe, overlapping northern and western Europe. The region can be defined both geographically and ethnographically.
In cultural anthropology and cultural geography, cultural diffusion, as conceptualized by Leo Frobenius in his 1897/98 publication Der westafrikanische Kulturkreis, is the spread of cultural items—such as ideas, styles, religions, technologies, languages—between individuals, whether within a single culture or from one culture to another. It is distinct from the diffusion of innovations within a specific culture. Examples of diffusion include the spread of the war chariot and iron smelting in ancient times, and the use of automobiles and Western business suits in the 20th century.
The Nordwestblock is a hypothetical Northwestern European cultural region that several scholars propose as a prehistoric culture in the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, and northwestern Germany, in an area approximately bounded by the Somme, Oise, Meuse and Elbe Rivers, possibly extending to the eastern part of what is now England, during the Bronze and Iron Ages from the 3rd to the 1st millennia BCE, up to the onset of historical sources, in the 1st century BCE.
Robert Harry Lowie was an Austrian-born American anthropologist. An expert on North American Indians, he was instrumental in the development of modern anthropology.
Dutch people or the Dutch are a Germanic ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Aruba, Suriname, Guyana, Curaçao, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United States. The Low Countries were situated around the border of France and the Holy Roman Empire, forming a part of their respective peripheries, and the various territories of which they consisted had become virtually autonomous by the 13th century. Under the Habsburgs, the Netherlands were organised into a single administrative unit, and in the 16th and 17th centuries the Northern Netherlands gained independence from Spain as the Dutch Republic. The high degree of urbanization characteristic of Dutch society was attained at a relatively early date. During the Republic the first series of large-scale Dutch migrations outside of Europe took place.
A language border or language boundary is the line separating two language areas. The term is generally meant to imply a lack of mutual intelligibility between the two languages. If two adjacent languages or dialects are mutually intelligible, no firm border will develop, because the two languages can continually exchange linguistic inventions; this is known as a dialect continuum. A "language island" is a language area that is completely surrounded by a language border.
William C. Farabee (1865–1925), the second individual to obtain a doctorate in physical anthropology from Harvard University, engaged in a wide range of anthropological work during his time as a professor at Harvard and then as a researcher at the University Museum, Philadelphia, but is best known for his work in human genetics and his ethnographic and geographic work in South America.
The "East Asian cultural sphere" or "Sinosphere" are the countries and regions in East Asia that were historically influenced by the Chinese culture. Other names for the concept include the Sinic world, the Confucian world, the Taoist world, and the Chinese cultural sphere, though the last is also used to refer particularly to the Sinophone world: the areas which speak varieties of Chinese.
The traditional narratives of Native California are the folklore and mythology of the native people of California. For many historic nations of California, there is only a fragmentary record of their traditions. Spanish missions in California from the 18th century Christianized many of these traditions, and the remaining groups were mostly assimilated to US culture by the early 20th century. While there are sparse records from the 18th century, most material was collected during the 19th and the early 20th centuries.
East Asia is the eastern subregion of Asia, defined in either geographical or ethno-cultural terms. China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam belong to the East Asian cultural sphere. Geographically and geopolitically, the region includes China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, and South Korea.
A pan-region is a geographic region or state’s sphere of economic, political and cultural influence extending beyond that state's borders. For example, the pan-region of the United States of America (USA) regions both bordering the USA and its close neighbors including, Canada, Mexico, and many South America other states.
The Hidden Frontier: Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley is a classic study of ethnography, published in 1974 by John W. Cole and Eric R. Wolf.