Case Studies on the Use of First-person Narrative in Geography


First-person narrative can be a powerful tool when used in the field of geography. It allows for a personal connection with a particular place or phenomenon, bringing a unique perspective and understanding to a topic. In this article, we will explore how first-person narrative has been used in geography through case studies in various areas of study.

One of the most well-known examples of first-person narrative in geography is the work of Farley Mowat. He was a Canadian author and environmentalist who wrote about his experiences living among a group of Inuit people in northern Canada. His most famous book, “Never Cry Wolf,” tells the story of Mowat’s time spent studying wolves in their natural habitat. Through his first-person narrative, Mowat was able to share his personal observations and interactions with the wolves, giving readers an intimate look into their behavior and way of life. This book not only became a bestseller, but it also brought attention to the importance of understanding and preserving the natural world.

First-person narrative has also been used in the field of cultural geography. In her book “In the City of Bikes,” author and journalist Pete Jordan recounts her experience of living and biking in Amsterdam, a city notorious for its cycling culture. Through her personal experiences and interactions, she delved into the history and social implications of biking in Amsterdam, shedding light on the cultural and societal factors that have led to its popularity. By using first-person narrative, Jordan was able to bring a personal touch to an otherwise complex and abstract topic, making it more relatable and engaging for readers.

Moving on to physical geography, first-person narrative has been utilized in the study of natural disasters. In his book “The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes -and Why,” author Amanda Ripley shares the stories of survivors of various disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and terrorist attacks. Through their first-person accounts, readers are given a unique insight into the physical and emotional impacts of these events, as well as the strategies and behaviors that helped these individuals survive. By using first-person narrative, Ripley was able to convey the human aspect of natural disasters, highlighting the resilience and adaptability of people in the face of adversity.

Another case where first-person narrative has been used in geography is in the study of migration. In the book “The Devil’s Highway,” author Luis Alberto Urrea tells the story of a group of Mexican immigrants attempting to cross the treacherous border into the US. Through the first-person accounts of the migrants, readers are given a raw and emotional depiction of the struggles and dangers faced by those trying to cross the border for a better life. By using first-person narrative, Urrea is able to humanize the issue of migration, shedding light on the personal journeys and motivations of those seeking a new home.

In conclusion, first-person narrative has proven to be a valuable tool in the field of geography. It allows for a more personal and human perspective on a range of topics, from environmental conservation to the complexities of societal and cultural factors. Through the use of individuals’ personal experiences and observations, first-person narrative brings a unique and powerful element to the study of geography, making it more relatable and engaging for readers. As seen in the case studies above, first-person narrative has the ability to deepen our understanding and connection to the world around us, making it an essential tool in the field of geography.