He was married to Betty, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is father to eldest daughter Susan. [Fitzgerald] He met and married Donia in 1971. They met in Guadeloupe and married in Canada.
He served in the American Fifth Army during the height of the Korean War, November 1950 to November 1952. Taught atomic war at the Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare School at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.
He studied under Richard Hartshorne, the first professional geographer he had ever met.
He is known as an influential and ‘radical’ geographer. An interviewer in the late sixties defines him as 'an intellectual with an international reputation in geography, Bunge harbors a peculiar disrespect for academic life. He considers it both too organized and too conformist.” In commentary from 1974 Bunge eludes he is also a humanist and a Marxist. He is a revolutionary'.
-Ph.D. from University of Washington – Seattle, 1960;
-Professor at the State University of Iowa, (Iowa City)1960-1961; Bunge reports he was fired from this position.
-'Nominal' publisher of Labor Today, Detroit 1962.
-Affiliated with the University of Michigan, 1964;
-Assistant Professor at Wayne State University, Michigan. 1962-1969; A geographer and professor from Vancouver reports Bunge was fired from Wayne State for swearing in class, dropping a student from a second story window, and sending his students on a field trip into the inner city. Class notes from Dr. Robert Rundstrom October 9th, 2006 claim Bunge was a taxi driver while on sabbatical to get to know the streets and the people of Detroit.
-Formed the Detroit Geographical Expedition in partnership with Gwendolyn Warren in 1968.
-Left the U.S. November 1970 to live in Canada.
-Professor at the University of Western Ontario, 1970-1971.
-Researcher for the Society for Human Exploration, 1971.
-Visiting Professor at York University (Toronto, CANADA) 1972-1973.
-Theoretician for the Toronto Geographical Expedition, 1973.
Nuclear War Atlas © 1988 p. x
Dr. Trevor Barnes, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, CANADA. (2005)
Theoretical Geography was first seen at the University of Washington – Seattle as Bunge’s dissertation. It is widely known and revered, as “an influential text concerned with the dependence of geographical theory on the concepts of geometry and topological mathematics.” (Johnston, 1986, p. 358) The second edition was published by The Royal University of Lund, Sweden in 1966 with some revisions. Modestly, Bunge begins, “this book is however, highly exploratory and incomplete.” The text’s roots are in mathematics and it is dedicated specifically to German, Walter Christaller, who wrote on central place theory whose translations became available in the late 1950’s, according to R. J. Johnston (2004, p. 77). Bunge’s work strives to prove geography is a science, based in scientific theory. Human geography is included in scientific method, “There is no dispute here with what appears to be the consensus of American geographers over confining the subject matter geography to the earth’s surface and to phenomena of human significance.” (p. 5) Geographers describe their topics of study and Bunge explains “description, by its very nature, is scientific.” (p.6) Bunge sets out with a suggested scientific methodology for geography. He builds on Richard Hartshorne’s work of regional geography and allows the descriptions to be the facts of our scientific method. (p. 37)
Bunge applies basic geometry to the theory of geography, “Perhaps the most spatial concept is that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This property of elementary geometry proves so useful to geography because of the prevalence of efficient movement in the observable world,” he admits the topics studied will not always adhere to logic, “most human movements are not completely efficient but contain some random motions.” (p. 177)
Fred Schaefer’s work, Exceptionalism is Geography: A Methodological Examination” from the 43rd volume of the Annals in 1953, is also used as a tool to build Bunge’s arguments, “…Geography…must pay attention to the spatial arrangement of the phenomena in an area and not so much to the phenomena themselves. Spatial relations are the ones that matter in geography, and to others.” (p. 207)
Bunge winds up this detailed work redefining geography for a cause. “The alliance between physical and regional science geographers appears to be mechanical in practice rather than a solution based on intellectual efficiency. Schaefer’s ‘spatial relations’ are given deserved prominence in overview but are not carried through to produce the unified field upon which his logic insists.” (p. 235)
Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution is a piece of regional geography which is dares to explain human behavior regarding bigotry in the late 1960’s near Detroit. It also is an immensely detailed example of field work, data collection, and mapmaking. It was published in 1971, four years after the deathly riots of 1967 and two years after it was completed. The stark photographs haunt the pages of documented research which begin with the indigenous peoples of the Ojibwa. The format combined three media, the author’s conceptions, interviews with residents, and visual aids (photographs, graphs and maps) for what could have been the first time in geographic writing.
Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution, in contrast, is regional geography which propelled Bunge from a fledgling professor into the role of a ‘radical’ geographer. At the beginning of Fitzgerald the author is concerned with the detail of the growth of the community. He begs the reader to ‘not skip to the end’ or they will miss the foundation or purpose of the book, “the wisdom of the story” (Bunge, 1971). Bunge strives to understand how and when the prejudice began which lead to the violence of 1967.
It is used in texts books across the U.S. and other countries. For example, R. J. Johnston discusses ‘Mapping Welfare’ (2004, p. 337) in the chapter dedicated to ‘Applied geography and the relevance debate’. “An alternative, highly personal, programme of mapping variations in human welfare was advanced by Bunge (1971), who prepared a ‘geobiography’ of his home area in Detroit’s black ghetto. His deeply humanitarian concern for the future was interpreted as a need to ensure a healthy existence for children”. Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution influenced other geographers to continue the call to map variables never collected before like rats, roaches, parks, libraries, and toys to better the lives of children in inner cities therefore bettering the future generations of humans. Bunge’s book strengthens field work for human geographers. He pleads with geographers to get out of the books and into the world, “Libraries, including map libraries, are not where geographers are supposed to spend their lives. It is where they are supposed to deposit their life’s work, gathered mostly in the field…The earth is our book. Let us start reading it again.” (Fitzgerald from a Distance1973, p. 488)
Bunge details how the community changed from mostly all white to mostly all black. He tries to reveal why most white families chose to move rather than to stay. He describes how some community members reached out and worked to make their community better although they state in interviews that times were tense and uncomfortable. Some eventually made the diverse community integrated, peaceful, and united, for a period of time. For example, Bunge tells of Carl Erbaugh, humanist.
Bunge lived in Fitzgerald for two years, according to Dr. Trevor Barnes of Vancouver . He attended community meetings and ran for office, for a seat on the Board of Regents of Wayne State University, although he was defeated. His eldest daughter attended the local schools as a minority, “Susan Bunge graduated from this ‘inferior’ environment reading four grades past her level...and crazy for peace.” (Bunge 1971, p. 101)
Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution was completed in 1969 but searched for a brave-enough-publisher for two years.
The Geography of Human Survival was presented by the ANNALS of the Association of American Geographers. It is a continuation of the arguments that humans are far too interconnected with machines which are killing their children. This topic was raised in Fitzgerald but is studied in much more detail in this piece. He defines man and machines into two different categories one that creates food and one that creates weapons. He continues to point out how intertwined man is with his machine creations. “The men that cluster with the machines called tools are workers. They are numerous. The men that cluster with the machines called weapons are the police and the standing army. They are few, but crucially placed. A great biological antagonism exists between these two types of men, since tools make food and weapons steal it.” (p. 278) Bunge has an answer to world peace. He explains if all man were allowed the tool machines, enough food, then there would be no need for the police weapons to protect the resources from being stolen. This is simply supply and demand. Bunge advocates destruction of the demand for weapons by distributing food, but more importantly the tools for growing food, globally.
Bunge reviews races and how man was one race originally; this was also mentioned in Fitzgerald and reactions to it. This relates to his point in building a sense of community and neighborhood. “We have become such intimate neighbors that almost no one consciously understands the situation,” (p. 281). After the author establishes a global connection he shows maps of the planet and the wind which display the toxins from weapon testing. Specifically, the maps show an atom bomb test in 1944 in New Mexico and the debris from the fifth nuclear detonation in China in 1966. Bunge clearly informs, “China has the immediate potential power, without any Soviet aid, to kill all higher life. Such an annihilation would be much less expensive per death or in absolute costs…If the Chinese detonated atomic bombs in place on their eastern coast, using the cheapest and most efficient transportation form, the winds, the resulting aerosol could pollute unto death the United States. America’s own radioactivity, dropped upon China and drifting back with the winds, could doom America.” (p283)
Having built the foundation arguments of weapon-machine awareness, global human connection and the evils of weapons vs. wind, Bunge continues with military strategy. He reviews the Domino Theory of the British Empire from the late 1800’s and he reviews the German armies in the 1930’s. Then he applies this theory to U.S. military deployments. Since the U.S. claims to be the ‘greatest superpower in the world’ yet we have less than ten per cent of the planets population. He does the math for us and summarizes, “American foreign policy is assuming a military suppression of simple desires for economic improvement of the world’s poor. If the poor become more wealthy America will lose more power relative to the rest of the world.” (p. 285)
Humans last safe space in the earth is in the earth. Bunge refers to the underground structures to survive a modern war, “What do homo sapiens bury in this safest and most protected interior space? Gold at Fort Knox, missiles in silos, and the generals, including the Commander-in-Chief, in deep bunkers but not the children! The species is protecting its most deadly machines, radioactive-computerized bombs, and leaving its children exposed.” (p. 286) Bunge comes to define power and wealth as the “mass education of young minds. A world map of the average numbers of years of schooling completed correlates with per capita wealth. A nation of electrical engineers makes more money than a nation loaded with oil and ignorance.” The author begs the reader to invest in their futures by supporting children’s education.
Nearing the end (p. 289) of Geography of Survival Bunge offers his ‘Geography of the Future’ where he predicts global interaction will create a ‘world culture of international youth’: • Everyone will speak English. (Since the internet is 75% English, this one came true within a quarter of a century.) • The world culture will be technologically Western European, heavily electronic with free electricity. (Bunge was batting 500 with this one. We have free wi-fi…does that count?) • It is likely African music and dance forms will be the dominant. (This would include jazz, rap, pop, rhythm & blues, hip hop, soul, and some gospel. Bunge was correct about this too. There is even a rabbi rapper in NYC.) • “Perhaps Chinese house-types and foods will be dominant worldwide. Chinese architecture allows rearrangement of the house itself and the use of the floor as part of the furniture.” (This is in fashion now, but I’m not sure it will remain a dominant trend.) • Men vote for a climate of about 70’ and prefer no snow or rain. Mountains and beaches are preferred terrain forms. (This seems like common sense to me.)
Lastly, Bunge repeats his mantra of returning to a natural world, without machine dependence. He searches for a home without death, with instead peace and unity with nature. We have come so far we must redefine natural, since man can not turn back time and disregard concrete so quickly. He offers, “The natural state of man is that state which leads to a long life for the species. It is the state where he ceases speciecide against all but a most ruthless killer of our species itself.” He gives the first steps: 1. Allow the existence of rats away from children. 2. Make the radioactive material (all of it) harmless immediately. 3. Child killing must cease! “A survival bent geography is thus free of value judgment or logic because it rests on something more basic, human nature itself. It is both good and logical because it is natural.” (p. 291) Bunge concludes with a few thoughts on urban or inner city geography. He praises parks and non-machine areas like cul-de-sac streets. He glosses over transportation and says this about the plane, “The three dimensional machines are the freest to roam and clearly the most deadly. The airplane is not only noxious in fumes and noise, it carries the deadliest bombs short of the ultimate machine, and spatially the freest machine, the nuclear missile.” His words resonate with the news reports from NYC, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. from September 11th, 2001. Finishing his description of city space, Bunge points out a deadly space, “Spaces that contain just men and machines tend to be deadly. Factories, prisons, lumber camps, aggressive armies, and so forth produce deadly homosexual spaces.” Upon first glace this reader thought Bunge was making a statement about alternative lifestyles, but with greater reflection he plans to mix women into the places where men exclude them. In closing Bunge restates, “the geography of children is the geography of the species…we must learn to worship children, not machines.”
Fred K. Schaefer and the Science of Geography was originally circulated by geographers in the 1960’s often through Harvard Papers in Theoretical Geography, Special Papers Series, Paper A, 1968. Bunge relies on Schaefer in Theoretical Geography for his defense of science and the possibility of spatial laws in geography. “It was Schaefer whom the gang that Garrison gathered together at Washington pored over. Schaefer’s methodology interpreted Hoover, Losch, and Christaller and launched Garrison and his raiders.” (p. 131)
This was written after Schaefer’s death. Bunge’s posthumous mentor was born in Berlin and studied political science, political geography, economics, and statistics. Schaefer was a social worker and a socialist, according to Bunge, and eventually was able to escape the political refugee climate of Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s. “Hitler came to power and Schaefer and people like him were immediately subjected to terrorism.” (p. 129) Schaefer made his way to England and then to the U.S.; he tried to alert people in the U.S. to the Nazi situation. He worked at a refugee camp in Iowa until he became a member of the staff of the State University of Iowa toward the end of the Great Depression. He was a socialist the McCarthyism of the 1950’s seemed to chase him out of the university and into a rest home for a brief time. Bunge writes about a second wind for Schaefer after getting married in 1947. He returned to academia and since he could also read and write in Russian, he taught the geography of the Soviet Union with special focus on political and economic perspectives. His most famous article, as Bunge explains, was Exceptionalism in Geography: A Methodological Examination which was published by the Annals of the Association of American Geographers in 1953. However, Bunge states, “Schaefer’s second contribution [Geography Training a National Handicap, 1943], the discovery of the subject matter of scientific geography, was the critical and entirely independent contribution,” because it clearly claimed geography as a science and laid the groundwork for spatial relationships. Sadly, Schaefer died in 1953 before his latest article and “reason for existence in geography” (p. 132) was printed.
Nuclear War Atlas was originally a series of slides presented by a ‘peace faculty member’ Bunge who had been greatly affected by the riots of Detroit and the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. Between 1968 and 1970 he traveled to many campuses in the U.S., Canada, and Britain showing what would become this text. Chapter 2, Machine-ism, is part of an unpublished book written the same time as Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution; it was called Lifeism. The atlas is indeed a book sprinkled with maps and charts. It words are a compilation of earlier work. The Domino Theory with maps, the nuclear testing and atomic bomb testing maps are the same at the article, The Geography of Human Survival and discussed previously. This text goes into more detail of human starvation and the need for food and the tools to create food to be spread worldwide. He continues the focus of children and their survival.
A World in Crisis: Geographical Perspectives (second edition) edited by R. J. Johnston and Peter J. Tayor combines the expertise of such geographers as Dr. P. N. Bradley, Professor Peter Odell, Dr. Colin H. Williams, as well as the editors. It analyses international economic disorder, the draining of the world’s energy, world hunger, geopolitical disorder, the destruction of cultures, and is concluded with Bunge’s Epilogue: Our Planet is Big Enough for Peace but Too Small for War. These words are directly from Nuclear War Atlas published in 1988 from slides used across three countries in the 1960’s.
This brief piece resonates with the exact words from Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution, “We have created a Third World wherever infant mortality rates are high – as they are in America’s black ghettos, where the rate is higher than in 57 per cent of the world’s countries.” (Bunge 1989, p. 356)
In true Bunge style his chapter is a factual explanation of the birth and location of the human species. He covers population growth, expansion, and diversification. He numbers natural resources, world hunger, and the destruction of human space. He draws upon Krakatoa as an example of one event changing the entire surface of the earth, which dramatically affects her inhabitants. From a geographic standpoint Bunge explains the surface of the earth is not safe due to the number of nuclear weapons which exists.
He mentions our one last safe haven could be the interior of the surface, except, thus far humans have created underground bunkers for nuclear weapons and government officials, like the presidents. He wonders why they do not protect their citizens, especially their children. “Yet, with all this wonder clearly with in our reach, there are many – individuals, groups, whole societies even – apparently dedicated to their own suicide and the murder of everybody else. This collective death-wish has been automated into the hair-triggered computers that control the missiles. They may prevail. We can have heaven; or we may choose hell. In geographical terms, this planet is not too small for peace but it is too small for war.” (Bunge, 1989, p. 357)
Interestingly, Bunge’s contribution is laden with facts yet, unlike the other authors cites no references. He calls upon common knowledge and stacks it in such a way, most would agree with his conclusion. Lastly, Johnston, the editor and prolific geographer, cites Bunge’s work in his chapter for this book.
Professors mention him in their classes so future generations will learn his name and his legacy. For example, at the University of BC in Canada, Professor Trevor Barnes tells students Bunge was a “former acolyte of spatial science” and Bunge’s Fitzgerald is “a book like none other in urban geography”.
Geographers may catch references of his work in geography journals like the Professional Geographer, the Annals, or the Antipode. Text books cite Bunge, Geography and Geographers by Johnston, A World in Crisis, edited by Johnston and Taylor.
Geographers around the planet have translated his works and referenced his works in French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Russian and most probably other languages as well.
1964. Bunge, William W., “Geographical Dialectics,” Professional Geographer, Vol. 16, pp. 28-29.
1966. Bunge, William W., “Locations Are Not Unique,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 56, pp. 375-376.
1966. Bunge, William W., “Gerrymandering, Geography, and Grouping,” Geographical Review, Vol. 56, pp. 256-263.
1968. “Fred K. Schaefer and the science of geography,” Harvard Papers in Theoretical Geography, Special Papers Series, Paper A, Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
1969. Bunge, William W. “Atlas of Love and Hate,” Detroit: The Society for Human Exploration
1973. Bunge, William W., “The Geography,” Professional Geographer, Vol. 25, pp. 331-337.
1973. Bunge, William W., “The Geography of Human Survival,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 63, pp. 275-295.
1973. Bunge, William W., Sack, Robert D. “Spatial Prediction,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 63, pp. 566-569.
1973. Bunge, William W., “Urban Nationalism: An Example from Canada,” La Revue de Geographie deMontreal, Vol. 27
1973. Bunge, William W., “Exploration in Guadeloupe: Region of the Future,” Published by York University, Canada. [from a 1971 trip]
1974. Fryer, Donald W., Bunge, William W., “A Geographer’s Inhumanity to Man,”
1974. Bunge, William W., Peirce, F. Lewis, “Fitzgerald fro a Distance,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 64, pp. 485-489.
1975. Bunge, William W., “Reflections of Fitzgerald,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 65, pp. 104-105.
1979. Bunge, William W., “Perspective of Theoretical Geography,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 69, pp. 169-174.
1979. Bunge, William W., “Fred K. Schaefer and the Science of Geography,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 69, pp. 128-132.
Bunge, William W., Bryson, Reid A., 1956. Ice on Wisconsin Lakes Published by Madison, University of Wisconsin, Dept. of Meteorology.
Bunge, William W., 1962. Theoretical Geography Published by: Lund Studies in Geography, Royal University of Lund, further editions published in 1966, 1967, 1973, 1980.
Bunge, William W., 1964. Patterns of Location Published by Ann Arbor Michigan: Dept. of Geography, University of Michigan, further editions published in 1968, 1972, 1974, 1979.
Bunge, William W., Nystuen, John D., 1968. The Philosophy of Maps Published by Ann Arbor Michigan Inter-University Community of Mathematical Geographers, further editions published in 1976, 1978.
Bunge, William W., 1969. The first years of the Detroit Geographical Expedition: a personal report Published by Detroit, Society for Human Exploration.
Bunge, William W., 1970. A report to the parents of Detroit on school decentralization Published by Detroit: Detroit Geographical Expedition and Institute.
Bunge, William W., 1971. Fitzgerald: The Geography of a Revolution Published by
Bunge, William W., 1973. Urban Nationalism Published by Ottawa: Ministry of State for Urban Affairs.
Bunge, William W., 1973. Ethics and logic in geography. In R. J. Chorley (ed.), Directions in Geography. London: Methuen, 317-31.
Bunge, William W., 1974. Practical Applications of Theoretical Geography Published by Iowa City, Department of Geography, University of Iowa, further edition 1980.
Bunge, William W., 1975. Detroit Humanely Viewed
Bunge, William W.; and Ron Bordessa 1975 The Canadian Alternative: Survival, Expeditions and Urban Change Published by York University, Atkinson College, Geographical Monographs No. 2
Bunge, William W., In R. Peet, (ed) 1977 Radical Geography: Alternative Viewpoints on Contemporary Issues (Maaroufa Press, Chicago)
Bunge, William W., 1986, 1989. A World in Crisis?: Geographical Perspectives: Epilogue: Our Planet is Big Enough for Peace but Too Small for War. Edited by R. J. Johnson and P.J. Taylor