Historical Geography Research ›› 2019, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (1): 149-158.

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Study on the Evolution of Meanings of Renwen Dilixue and Rensheng Dilixue in China in the First Half of 20th Century

Zeng Weijia   

  1. School of Geographical Sciences, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  • Received:2019-05-19 Online:2019-08-20 Published:2019-08-20


Looking through the development of geography as a subject in China, human geography was once translated into renwen dilixue or rensheng dilixue. The academia can hardly define exact meanings and relationship between these two terms precisely. Interpretation of the literature in the first half of the 20th century helps reveal the evolution of these terminologies. The course of such development should be divided into three stages. In the first stage, renwen dilixue evolved from the convergence between traditional chorography and modern human geography in order to study humanity aspects of geography. In the second stage, rensheng dilixue emerged in order to criticize the traditional chorography and to promote the theory regarding the human-place relationship as the core content of human geography. It was affected by the French school of thoughts. The third stage was, again, renwen dilixue, but with meanings differ from either of previous ones’. It criticized the theory of human-place relationship of the stage two. It was proposed under a general ideological background that combined landscape and dialectical materialism theories. Throughout these three stages, we can notice that the phrase human geography in China had different meanings at different time. Inheritance of those meanings exists, but criticism from one to another dominates. Essentially, these variations of academic thoughts were the result of the introduction of Western modern geographical thoughts that blended with the domestic academic environment and historical background of China.

Key words: renwen dilixue, rensheng dilixue, connotation, evolution

CLC Number: 

  • K928