The Geographical Study of Rural Settlements
This chapter presents a review of the development of rural settlement theory and its relevance to tropical Africa. Many rural settlements have become permanent and responses to external stimuli are taking place rapidly. The European geographers who first began to classify the structure of rural settlements concentrated on fixed village forms. Indeed, the earliest scholarly attempts to study rural settlement in Europe followed this process of “settling down” quite closely. The first contributions to the study of rural settlement in tropical Africa were the work of colonial administrators. Their efforts reflect western cultural conceptions and a preoccupation with fixed locations and linear progressions rather than with the multidirectional African processes. John C. Hudson’s theory has stimulated additional studies based on similar assumptions and methodology. The initial research on African settlement gradually merged with work that was being done in other parts of the developing world.