Humboldt, Granö and Geo-poetics of the Altai

  • Anne Buttimer
Keywords: Alexander von Humboldt, Johannes Gabriel Granö, Altai, Siberia, geo-poetics


The Altai region of Siberia has held magnetic appeal for explorers and scientists down the centuries. Two of these explorers, Alexander von Humboldt (1769−1859) and Johannes Gabriel Granö (1882−1956), were especially gifted in yielding both geo-scientific and geo-poetic accounts of their surveys, Granö especially evoking a “geo-poetics” of the Altai, possibly inspired by Humboldt’s American journeys. Though their career trajectories spanned very different periods and circumstances, these two scholars have bequeathed legacies of enduring value − conceptually and substantively − in bridging the worlds of science and humanities and revealing innovative insight into interactions of society and environment. As Humboldt eventually based the principles of his Cosmos on travels made earlier in life, so too Granö would later build on the experiences in Altai to develop his major theoretical work, Reine Geographie (1929). This paper describes the journeys through Altai of Humboldt and Granö, and some discursive strategies used by both writers in yielding dynamic pictures of mountain landscapes and ways of life.
Review Articles
Nov 11, 2010
How to Cite
Buttimer, A. (2010). Humboldt, Granö and Geo-poetics of the Altai. Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 188(1), 11–36. Retrieved from