Contextual Perspectives on Geographical Thought: Gillman of Tanganyika (1882-1946) by Dr. B.C. Hoyle: Discussion Paper no.19, Department of Geography, University of Southampton, 1983: 25pp.: 75p.

This short paper is intended to be the forerunner of a major study of Clement Gillman’s life and work. Engineer, cosmopolitan, explorer and practical geographer par excellence, Gillman’s 40 years of scientific exploration and practical administration span the whole period of the modern development of Tanganyika to the end of World War Two. He was particularly associated with railway development, but his pervasive interests in hydrology and environmental issues placed him in the front rank of those who both contributed to and drew intellectual support from the newly developing field of academic geography.

Anyone with an interest in modern developmental problems in the Third World is bound to admire and value the considerable achievements of such a pioneer geographer. It is a tribute to Brian Hoyle’s enthusiasm and perception that he should have chosen to write so well and so carefully about such a figure. In his own writing he shows the same qualities which he attributes to Gillman, i.e., ‘meticulous observation’ and ‘accurate recording of facts’ as well as a capacity to enliven these facts with comment and intelligent interpretation. We should all look forward to the fuller and no doubt definitive work which will follow. It is perhaps appropriate to conclude this short note with Brian Hoyle’s own summary at the end of his paper on Gillman himself:

‘He was clearly a man of strongly-held and forcefully-expressed opinions, a man who was widely admired, but whom some must have found a constant source of irritation; a man whose agnosticism set him apart from many in his community; and whose internationalism received a cool reception during the rampant nationalism of the two World Wars. Yet in the last analysis he was a man of tremendous drive and enthusiasm, of vast experience and wise counsel, and a pioneer to whom all concerned with modern development planning in East Africa today owe a considerable debt.’

Paul Fordham

(1) see ‘The Informal Sector and Peripheral Capitalism’ by Manfred Bienefeld: Institute of Development Studies Bulletin 6.3

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