Naming ‘place’

‘Place’ has become one of the key components of teaching Geography. As there are no shortage of documents, blog entries, opinion pieces and policy/teaching guidance on teaching ‘place’, I won’t dwell on that here. Instead, this is a short entry to highlight an example of one thing that makes ‘place’ important: identity.

I set myself a challenge. And that was to give a name to each of these apparently arbutary-looking spatial areas:

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I’ll spare the details how these were constructed (you can read the Twitter conversation yourself here), but suffice to say that they aren’t really based on any particular, or recognisable physical or human attribute.

I asked fellow educators (and anyone interested) on Facebook and Twitter what they would name any of these regions (or ‘clusters’ as they are called):

One interesting suggestion was to attempt to name them according to topography, especially since it was guessed (correctly) that the map’s colours were displaying temperature, and relief is a factor that controls climate.

But with some of the clusters covering only parts of mountain ranges or plains, this proved difficult with the exception of a small number.

Another suggestion was to use historical names for areas, but that could be frought different levels of controversy as such names are often based on conquest and occupation.

How about some humour?

Trust a colleague from Scotland to go for banter about that part of the map!

So to go back to the top of this post – this attempt to name certain clusters of areas in Europe really got me thinking about a place’s identity and the names we give them. Perhaps exploring that in depth will be the time for another blog entry (but here’s a relevant throw-back to to a older blog entry which looks at place identity through language).

In case you are wondering, below is attempt number one – a collation of different ideas (thanks to all who contributed) and myself pouring over various physical and political maps of European countries:

01ES Galicia
02ES Cantabrians & Esla
03ES Iberian System & Duero
04ES Basque & Navarre
05ES Aragon
06ES Catalonia
07ES Madrid
08ES Sierra Morena
09ES Cadiz & Western Baetics
10ES Eastern Baetics
11ES Mercia, Valencia & Islands
12PT Northern Portugal
13PT Southern Portugal
14FR Gascogne & Pyrenees
15FR Midi-Pyrenees
16FR Marseille & French Alps
17FR Pays de la Loire
18FR Central France
19FR Massif Central
20FR Rhone Alps
21FR Brittany
22FR Normandy
23FR Ile De France (Paris)
24FR Morvan
25FR Eastern France
26FR Northern France
27FR Champagne
28BE Belgium
29LU Luxembourg
30NL Netherlands
31DE North German Plain
32DE Schleswig-Holstein & Lower Saxony
33DE North Rhine-Westphalia
34DE Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate & Hesse
35DE Baden-Wurttemberg
36DE Black Forest
37DE Bavaria
38DK Jutland & Funen
39CZ Bohemia
40CZ Moravia
41PL North-East & Central Poland
42PL Eastern Poland
43PL Southern Poland
44PL Western Poland
45PL Northern Poland
46SK Slovakia
47CH Northern Switzerland
48CH Swiss Alps
49AT Austrian Alps
50AT Upper Austria & Styria
51AT Lower Austria, Vienna & Burgenland
52IT Northern Italy
53IT Tuscany & Romagna
54IT Rome & Central Italy
55IT Southern Italy
56IT Sicily
57SI Slovenia
58HU Hungary
59RO North & Western Romania
60RO Southern Romania
61RO Eastern Romania
62HR Croatia
63BA Bosnia and Herzegovina
64ME Montenegro
65RS Serbia
66BG Bulgaria
67MK Macedonia
68GR Northern Greece
69GR Southern Greece & Crete
70AL Albania
72DK Capital & Zealand
73EE Estonia
74FI Northern Finland
75FI Southern Finland
77LT Lithuania
78LV Latvia
79NO Southern Norway
80NO Buskerud, Vestfold & Telemark
81NO Western Norway
82NO Eastern Norway
83NO Central Norway
84NO Northern Norway
85NO Finnmark
86SE Northern Sweden
87SE Bottenhavet
88SE Central Sweden
89SE Southern Sweden
90UK Eastern & South East England
91UK South West UK
92UK Wales & The Midlands
93UK Northern England & The Borders
94UK Scottish Highlands & Grampians
95UK Northern Ireland
96IE Ireland
98IT Sardinia
99FR Corsica

Can you improve on any of these? Let me know in the comments below, or reply to the Twitter or Facebook thread!

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