European Urban Image Construction in US Geography Textbooks and Multimedia Video Supplements

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Dmitrii Sidorov, Department of Geography, California State University Long Beach


    Urbanization, one of the greatest Europe’s innovations, increasingly affects nowadays not only most remote regions of the world as a whole, but also the discipline of geography itself. In a way, urban geography quickly becomes a central sub-discipline in the field: influenced by classical European urbanists, it emerged just a century ago, started penetrating US university curriculum decades later yet now has the second most numerous membership at the Association of American Geographers. Therefore it is not a surprise that most of introductory world regional and human geography textbooks have significant urban topics coverage. Yet how do the textbooks both reflect and shape European urban visual identities? This paper attempts to reveal some recent patterns in visual representations of European urban landscapes in two kinds of geography textbooks used in North American universities. First, a review of regional/human geography textbooks and their visual dimensions/video supplements reveals various urbanizing tendencies across various national and regional contexts. At the same time, one may observe certain geopolitical biases and Orientalizing tendencies in their representations of Europe’s western and eastern cities. On the other hand, more advanced/specialized urban geography textbooks are also not immune from imbalances and reveal a tendency to ignore or minimize specifically European urban topics focusing instead on the developing world and the US. With the growing demand for online education, the visual and multimedia dimensions of geography learning as well as global penetration of American textbooks may be both enhanced and diminished: what might be the future of European urban visual identities shaped by the textbooks?