Geography And Human Development: A Study Of Ancient Athens

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University of Ghana


Two main, often conflicting, approaches or theories have been provided to understand or explain human-geography relationships, namely, geographic determinism and geographic possibilism. Scholars who hold geographic deterministic views argue that geographic conditions, to a larger extent, determine human culture and development. On the other hand, the possibilists argue that humans have the capacity to arise above the dictates of the geographical environment to modify and adapt to geographic conditions for their development. Contextually, the Balkan peninsular, since classical antiquity, has been considered by scholars as a major determinant of Greek, admirable human achievements and development. Thus, scholarship on the relationships between geography and human development in ancient Greece is mostly done in geographic determinism, leaving less to be said about possibilism. In this thesis, I attempt to offer a substantive account of a possibilist understanding of the relationship between geography and human development in ancient Greece in general and ancient Athens in particular. Incidentally, while pointing out the strength and limitations of each theoretical framework, the result of the study advocates for a merger of both determinism and possibilism in teasing out the relationships or correlations that exist between human development, geographic environment and civilisation, in the context of Greek society and Athens in particular.


Thesis (MPhil)


Geography, Human Development, Ancient Athens, Greece