Anthropology of zonality: nature and culture in the spatial differentation of human activity 

Zamyatina N.Yu. (Moscow, Russian Federation)


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The article is theoretical in nature and does not cover any particular region; however, the phenomenon of zonality is of particular relevance to the northern part of Siberia. The article draws a fundamental analogy between the classical theoretical zonal model of Thünen and zoning models of various regions of the world (Southeast Asia, Africa and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug Ugra in Russia). Zonality is usually perceived as a natural phenomenon regularly and naturally alternating natural zones (tundras, taigas, steppes, etc.). Under the influence of changing natural conditions, human activity also changes to one degree or another. However, there are many cultural and human factors under whose influence a similar picture of regularly and naturally differentiated zones emerges. For example, it could be the centre and periphery, previously and newly developed zones, etc. These zones are differentiated not only from an economic point of view but also as complex phenomena including holistic, imperious, behavioural and other aspects. The article is aimed at expanding the standard use of the concept zonality, reconsider zoning as not only and not so much a natural phenomenon as a broad theoretical approach effective for comparative studies in anthropology, economic and social geography, history, economics, as well as other disciplines. The technique used in this study consists in the identification of similar features when modelling the geographical differentiation of processes of different nature. As a result, the author proposes a general conceptualisation framework for the concept zonality as a universal phenomenon of spatially differentiated conditions for activities and the understanding of these conditions by people. The phenomenon of zonality can be observed when the geographical differentiation of any studied process is determined by a regular difference in a certain basic condition from place to place, which has a definitive effect on the development of the studied process. In the case of natural zonality, this is the distribution of solar radiation; in the case of economic zoning, cost of transportation often serves as the differentiating factor; in the case of areas of new development, the differentiating factor is the age of development.

Key words: zoning, geographical zone, center-periphery, development, frontier, new economic geography.


Funding. The reported study was funded by RFBR according to the research project 18-05-00600 New theory of economic penetration into the Arctic and Northern space: multiscale interdisciplinary synthesis.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted: 10.09.2019

Accepted: 30.09.2019

Article is published: 30.12.2019


Zamyatina N.Yu.

Lomonosov Moscow State University; GSP-1, Leninskie gory, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Geography, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation