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Revisiting the region: 'ordinary' and 'exceptional' regions in the work of Hilda Ormsby 1917-1940

Maddrell, Avril



Increased interest in and recognition of the value of the region and particularly the 'ordinary region' as opposed to more-glamorous 'exceptional regions'. encourages us to reexplore the nature and purpose of what could be described as the first methodological blueprint of modern British geographical enquiry. Received histories of geography which give the impression of the production of geographical knowledge as a (near) universal male domain and the post-1960s critique of the regional approach as descriptive and nonhermeneutical have combined to make invisible the geographical work of most women (and some men) working in British universities in the first half of the 20th century. Despite this, insights can clearly be gained from biographical studies of both 'ordinary' geographers like Hilda Ormsby and the epistemology of the 'ordinary region'. This allows for a richer and more-nuanced critical historiography of geography, but there is also a potentially fruitful reciprocity in conversation between that history of geographical ideas and explorations of economic alterity. Regional studies which may have been dismissed as 'merely descriptive' can be found to articulate detailed accounts of local socioeconomic practices giving evidence of the historical grounding for current economic standing, including complex and sometimes resistant interaction with dominant modes of economic 'success'.


Maddrell, A. (2006). Revisiting the region: 'ordinary' and 'exceptional' regions in the work of Hilda Ormsby 1917-1940. Environment and Planning A, 38(9), 1739-1752.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2006
Journal Environment and Planning A
Print ISSN 0308-518X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 9
Pages 1739-1752
Keywords regions, Hilda Ormsby, 1917-1940
Public URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This article was developed from a presentation at the 2003 RGS-IBG EGRG conference session "Revisiting the Region". It develops Maddrell's invited entries for Hilda Ormsby, Alice Garnett, Charlotte Cameron and Violet Cressy-Marcks to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and is also informed by Maddrell's earlier British Academy archive research.