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Asunto:[CeHuNews] 6/08 - HORACIO CAPEL SAEZ: 2008 Laureat of the Prix Vautrin Lud
Fecha:Domingo, 30 de Noviembre, 2008  18:34:10 (-0300)
Autor:cehunews <cehunews>

CeHuNews 6/08


      HORACIO CAPEL SAEZ: 2008 Laureat of the Prix Vautrin Lud          

                                                                      Saint-Dié des Vosges, September 2008



At the 2008 Festival de Géographie at Saint-Dié des Vosges, Horacio Capel Saez was awarded the Prix Vautrin Lud, a prize often regarded as "The Nobel of Geography". Professor at University of Barcelona, Capel is one of the best-known scholars in the Spanish-speaking world and has conducted pioneering work in urban and regional geography, in history and philosophy of geography, environmental perception and diffusion of innovations.

                Capel's international renown rests on his brilliant contributions to both theoretical and analytical concerns of geography. An early contributor to the work of the IGU Commission on History of Geographical Thought, his widely-cited paper on the institutionalisation of the discipline (Edinburgh, 1977) called attention to the social construction of scientific knowledges. This perspective is amply supported by his extensive studies of disciplinary practices of late XIX and XX centuries in Spanish-speaking contexts, as well as by his numerous biographical accounts of famous scholars such as Varenius and Alexander von Humboldt. He shed new light on the work of "geographical engineers", such as those involved in mining, forestry, agriculture and irrigation. His globally applauded Filosofia y ciencia en la geografia contemporanea (1981) called attention to not only the tensions between positivism and historicism in XIX and XX century geographical thought, but also to the "gatekeeping" role of school and college texts.

                Urbanisation, urban patterns and processes have always claimed analytical attention for Capel. His widely-read Capitalismo y morfologia urbana en Espana (1975), translated to several languages anad re-printed several times, established his reputation as an innovative urban geographer. This work spotlighted tensions among "geographical agents" - shapers of urban life and landscapes - and the role of public authorities in negotiating various claims. A wide range of concerns are involved here, e.g., migrations, technological developments, information, access to services. But he has also been actively engaged in public discussions on issues concerning everyday life in the city, particularly in Barcelona. His reflections on the work of Jorge Luis Borges (2001) and his 2-volume Morfologia urbana (2002) express a vivid and penetrating glance at emerging urban issues of the 21st century.

Linking the conceptual and the analytical thrusts of Capel's career, there has always been a fascination with networking, e.g., in the establishment of railroads, telephone and mail systems. Indeed communication and networking became a personal challenge for Capel. Secretary of the Revista de Geografia (1967-1992), he launched the journal Geo Critica. Cuadernos Criticos de Geografia Humana in 1976 and these have profoundly influenced colleagues throughout Europe and the Americas. His recently opened web portal, Geocritica, hosts contributions from several scientific fields and provides useful bibliographical information, particularly in the social sciences. Since 1999 he has organized annual international colloquia where interdisciplinary debates have flourished on topics such as technological innovation, labour markets, migrations and social change. In recent times he has shared his reflections on emerging issues of sustainable development, scale and temporality in geography.




                Horacio Capel Saez has received many awards and honours, including the AAG Preston James Latin Americanist Career Award. He has been invited to lecture in several European and Latin American universities and has directed the doctoral research of many a young student from Latin America. His work is applauded throughout the world, and in 2008 he is indeed the well-deserving laureate of Geography's "Nobel", the Prix Vautrin Lud.


                                                                                                                                      Anne Buttimer, University College Dublin