International Geographic Congresses
International Geographic Congresses
the basic form of professional congresses of geographers on a world scale.
Until World War I, geographic congresses were convened by the geographic societies of different countries, and since the 1920’s by the International Geographical Union and the national committees of geographers. Geographic congresses took place in the following years: (1) 1871 in Antwerp, (2) 1875 in Paris, (3) 1881 in Venice, (4) 1889 in Paris, (5) 1891 in Bern, (6) 1895 in London, (7) 1899 in Berlin, (8) 1904 in the USA, in various cities, (9) 1908 in Geneva, (10) 1913 in Rome, (11) 1925 in Cairo, (12) 1928 in Cambridge, Great Britain, (13) 1931 in Paris, (14) 1934 in Warsaw, (15) 1938 in Amsterdam, (16) 1949 in Lisbon, (17) 1952 in Washington, D.C., (18) 1956 in Rio de Janeiro, (19) 1960 in Stockholm, (20) 1964 in London, and (21) 1968 in Delhi.
The main task of geographic congresses is the exchange of information about the results of scientific investigation and the discussion of important geographic problems. Because of the differentiation between sciences, an important component of the program of geographical congresses is the sectional sessions, in which the problems of different branches of geography are discussed. The attempt to integrate all geographic research is expressed in the plenary sessions, where reports on timely questions of general interest are heard. Commissions of the International Geographic Union meet, and lectures, both scholarly and popular in nature, are given by the most prominent geographers in the world. General assemblies of the International Geographical Union are held during the geographic congress for the solution of organizational problems, and there are exhibits of geographic literature and maps. A special part of the program of the geographic congress is constituted by excursions and symposia in the different regions of the host country, which allow the participants to become acquainted with the distinctive features of the country’s nature, population, and economy. The publications of the geographic congress usually include copies of the reports made to the congress, fundamental monographs and collections that reflect the level of geography in the host country, and the calendar of the congress, including itineraries of the excursions and a list of the members of the congress with their addresses. The proceedings, which contain the full texts of all the scientific reports and surveys of the discussions, are published after the congress.
The materials of geographic congresses that have been collected over the past hundred years reflect, although not completely, a number of general tendencies in the evolution of geographic research. At the first ten geographical congresses more than one-third of the reports were devoted to a description of journeys to little-known regions of the earth, questions of geodesy and cartography, and the content and methods of geographic education. Later, the category of journeys disappeared from the program of geographic congresses, and most of the attention of participants turned to the results of deeper research into the natural environment, natural resources, the economy, the population, and population centers in terms of their components and regional patterns. A number of reports appeared at the geographic congresses on applied aspects of geography that have an important economic significance.
Russian geographers participated in the work of the first geographic congresses. From the 1920’s to the 1940’s, because of the difficulty of the international situation for the USSR, Soviet geographers attended only two geographic congresses (1931 in Paris and 1934 in Warsaw). Since 1956, delegations of geographers from the USSR have actively participated in the sessions of geographic congresses and presented Soviet geographic science based on the methodology of dialectical materialism. In the USSR, the National Committee of Soviet Geographers of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR is in charge of the preparations for geographic congresses.
V. V. ANNENKOV