Date of Award

1987

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

Cultural geography, in order to advance as a science, must stand on a deductive theory which is subject to empirical tests. This study establishes a scientific theory for geographical interpretation of cultural landscape by using Louisiana cemeteries as empirical objects. Based upon the assumption that, ultimately, only individual men can play a causative role in the creation of the cemetery landscape, a theory is constructed by examining man's action modeled on the practical syllogism. Operationally defined, culture is the expression of the individual's voluntary group identity that can be identified by comparing groups. A variety of group identities which are expressed by each individual make it possible to identify culture not only through comparison among culture areas, but also between a variety of groups. This study attempts to identify cultures by comparing the cemeteries of four kinds of dichotomous groups: (1) North and South Louisiana, (2) Catholic and Protestant, (3) white and black, and (4) urban and rural. As a result of systematic analysis of 236 critically selected cemeteries, cultural distinctions are clearly discovered between North and South Louisiana, Catholic and Protestant, and between urban and rural cemeteries. The resulting three dimensional model of Louisiana cultures demonstrates the superiority of this approach over traditional culture area studies. The survival of this theory through empirical tests indicates a sound logical basis for the assumption. The application of this theory to cultural geography leads to an effective regional classification, systematic description, explanation of distribution, understanding of the group characteristics, and recognition of man's active role in geographic transformation.

Pages

334

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