Japanese Journal of Human Geography Vol.60 No.6 (2008)

Vol.60 No.6 (2008)


Special Issue

Progress of Human Geography in Asia : Editorial Note
MIZUUCHI Toshio (1)
The Development and Status of Human Geography in Malaysia
LEE Boon Thong (2)
Progress of Human Geography in India : A Status Report
Shanmugam Pillai SUBBIAH (21)
Human Geography in Hong Kong : A Preliminary Analysis
Wing-Shing TANG and Kim-Ching CHAN (36)


The Reconceptualization of Homeless Policy and the Social Welfare Response of Non-Governmental Organizations in Hong Kong
KORNATOWSKI Geerhardt (53)


Geographical View on the New Transportation System and Environment in the Urban Areas (77)

Meeting Reports (79)

94th Meeting of Geographical Thought (81)
News (85)
Announcement (94)


The Development and Status of Human Geography in Malaysia

LEE Boon-Thonga
(Faculty of Arts and Social Sciencies, University of Malaya)

Human Geography in Malaysia started at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur in 1959. The early pioneers, comprising expatriates and locals, set the tone and pace of development that saw its heights in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. However, with new recruits not conversant in the English language, and the retirement of established human geographers accompanied by a gap in replacement policies and downsizing, the tempo and zest have somewhat lost their edge, even though a small number of human geographers are still active in research and publications. In Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Sains Malaysia, the multidisciplinary and inter―disciplining approach has limited the role and functions of human geography. In Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, for instance, its status as a Department was changed to that of a Programme, resulting in a reintegration of human geography courses with other disciplines. This cross―fertilization is also reflected in the research and publications of human geographers in Universiti Sains Malaysia. The increasing trend to publish in the national language has also constrained human geographers from a greater exposure and integration to the global community of human geographers. In other universities in the country, human geography plays an insignificant role in the humanities and social sciences. Finally, the diminishing number of geography students in tertiary institutions is a point of concern and it is obvious that the full value and contributions of human geography will not be fully realized unless geography is made mandatory again in secondary schools.

Key words: Geography, Human Geography, curriculum, research, publications

Progress of Human Geography in India: A Status Report

Shanmugam Pillai SUBBIAH
(Professor of Geography (Retired), University of Madras, Chennai, India)

Geography may be one of the better tools to help us in understanding Indian complexities and, of course, its potential is yet to be convincingly recognized by opinion leaders and policy makers. Geography in India has relatively a brief history, about 80 years only. Sixty-two university departments pursue geography teaching and research in this country, and five professional journals of geography have been relatively consistent in serving the research community in geography. Agricultural and land use studies, urban geography, population geography, and settlement geography were the topics of interest in human geography in the early period. Studies on agriculture, urban centers, population and social issues are the dominant fields now; GIS and remote sensing are the current tools with greater popularity. During the 1970s and 1980s, quantitative methods were widely adopted, making use of secondary data available from different government agencies. The application of statistical methods initiated some kind of search and urge for theory-building in geography in India. By the 1990s, computer applications and remote sensing became popular tools for geographers. Around this time, there were a few scholars who were advocating social responsibility in the subject, and so studies on gender issues, social conflicts, inequalities and disparities, and many other issues of human problems get some priority now.

Key words: Human Geography, Progress of Geography, Land use, Agriculture, Urban Geography, Social Geography

Human Geography in Hong Kong : A Preliminary Analysis

Wing-Shing TANG and Kim-Ching CHAN
(Department of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University)

Human geography in Hong Kong is a practice situated within the multiple spatialities of the then colonial and the post―colonial regimes of practices, and the material setting of Hong Kong. Geographical research is the output of the intellectuals’ comprehension of the environment and interaction with the regimes of practices. It is a commonplace in the knowledge production nexus that while the local authority randomly appropriates concepts for the purpose of governance, the local geographers randomly indigenise mainstream concepts that bear resemblance to the local environment.
Human geography in Hong Kong has developed considerably in the past thirty years or so. A brief survey shows that geographical research mostly employs quantitative methodology and focuses on mainland China. In fact in the last one to two decades, there was a conspicuous ‘China turn’. Despite these developments, there was no ‘paradigm shift’ in the field as well as scant attention to the issue of social relevance. The paper concludes by proposing steps to stride for social relevance, including researching local studies and opening one’s eye and mind to alternative and critical geography.

Key words: human geography, multiple spatialities, regimes of practices, knowledge production nexus, social relevance, Hong Kong

The Reconceptualization of Homelessness Policy and the Social Welfare Response of Non-Governmental Organizations in Hong Kong

(Graduate Student, Department of Geography, Osaka City University Graduate School
Special Research Fellow, Urban Research Plaza, Osaka City University)

The upsurge in homeless numbers in Hong Kong in the late 1990s, caused by the economic turmoil of the Asian Financial Crisis and neoliberal restructuring, forced the government to reconceptualize its previous approach to homelessness and restructure its policy. Before the government’s official formulation through the implementation of the Three-year Action Plan in 2001, non-governmental organizations had initiated their own social welfare responses, giving rise to the current transitory housing system, but the differences in their ethos and interactions with government policy have resulted in a diffused character and low degree of interconnectivity. However, the government gradually outsourced its welfare responsibilities to these organizations, and took on a monitoring function, by which it can intervene and utilize the transitory housing facilities to clear out and contain the visible homeless. In addition, by providing funds and facility services, it was able to influence the geographical distribution of transitory housing and homeless social welfare services.
This paper aims to explore the establishment of the Hong Kong transitory housing system for the homeless as a social welfare response; the professionalization of its management and its interactive relationship to government praxis; internal dynamics regarding service content; and geographical distribution set against Hong Kong’s urban context.

Key words: Homelessness, Street Sleepers/Bedspace Lodgers, Transitory Housing, Social Welfare, Non-Governmental Organizations, Hong Kong

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