Marwyn Samuels

From Geography

Jump to: navigation, search

Marwyn S. Samuels is a Jewish geographer, born in New York in 1942. He currently lives in Syracuse, New York. Samuels did loads of things in his life, including being a professor-emeritus of Geography at the Syracuse University. He also served there as director of the Foreign and Comparative Studies Program at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Soon in his career, Samuels called his attention to China. So after he got his PhD in Geography, Samuels also studied Chinese Studies and Geography at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Professor Samuels is now an expert on China's political economy, urban and regional development planning and he has served as a consultant for the Government of Jiangsu Province in China. Samuels has worked and lived in the Republic of China for about 30 years. He held several positions including a position as advisor to a variety of China's central, provincial and municipal government agencies, as an investor-manager of joint venture and privately-held enterprises in the telecommunications and entertainment industries, in agribusiness, environmental management, etc. In China, he also has taught at Peking University and Nanjing University where he is concurrently adjunct professor at the Institure of Urban and Regional Planning.

(Samuels is currently the founding chairman of the US-China AIDS Foundation, a non-profit agency established to support the prevention of HIV/AIDS in China.)

Biography of landscapes

It became clear for Samuels that his interests in the world has always been in the area of Geography. Espacially places, regions, nations and their identity, development or power attracted his attention. Samuels focussed on China, but he also wrote several articles about regional planning or other more common Geographical issues.

One of his famous statements is the one about authored landscapes. No landscape, place and spot is soulless or meaningless according to Samuels. He says that we can write a 'biography' of places and landscapes. Samuels want to emphasize with the concept of authored landscapes that landscapes are never simply passive expressions of anonymous processes. And that men are essential to understand (the meaning of) landscape history. The following statement also explains Samuels opinion about the identity of landscapes: ' Landscapes cannot be conceptualised without taking into account the life histories of individuals and groups that have shaped them over time '. Meanwhile it's clear that there are various ways to interpret the concept of landscape biography. At times the biography is about the cultural history of regions, other times the biography is about the development or planning of regions.

Colleague David Ley

Samuels also worked with geographer David ley. Together they wrote a book about men and geography: 'Humanistic Geography. Prospects and Problems.' They were quite interested in (the differences between) scientific humanism and Renaissance humanism, so they wrote their foundings about that subject in their book.


(He has published a few books, but many articles on Geography, focusing largely on China.)

  • Samuels, Marwyn S. (1979) The biography of Landscape. Cause and culpability in D.W. Meinig editor, The interpretation of ordinary landscapes. Geographical essays New York, Oxford: University Press.
  • Samuels, Marwyn S (1982) Contest for the South China Sea Chicago: Methuen.
  • Ley, D., Samuels, M.S. (1978) Humanistic Geography. Prospects and Problems. Chicago: Methuen, London: Croom Helm.


  • Cloke, P., Philo, Chr. & Sadler, D. (eds) (1991) Approaching Human Geography: An Introduction To Contemporary Theoretical Debates. London: Chapman. Chapter 3: Peopling human geography and the development of humanistic approaches. Pages 61-92.
  • Kolen, J.C.A. (2007) De biografie van het landschap. Amsterdam: Ducom. Page 16.


  • Page created by Iris van der Wal - 16:45, October 21st 2012
Personal tools