Leticia Roncero wrote on the Flickr blog this month that the Department of Geography, which started in 1898, is “the oldest university geography department in the English-speaking world,” and has been a leader in “the field of human and cultural geography.” Kinet’s photographs are very much a document of human interactions with the world, from looming Easter Island heads to a geothermal plant at a Philippines volcano.
Kinet died in 1989, and his photographs were cataloged by his wife Gertraude. Beginning in 1938 when he took a geographic research position in the Belgian Congo, he was always interested in visiting landscapes, museums, and places of cultural life, whether during World War II when he was drafted to lead a team through the equatorial rain forest and East African Highlands, or when he later fled Congo, after working at the Institute of Scientific Research in Central Africa, and took a position at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. There’s even a Mount Kinet named for him in Antarctica, where he spent time on a research expedition. UC Berkeley shared a quote from Dr. Heyneman from his eulogy, stating the scientist “belonged to a vanishing breed of tropical fieldworker and scholar who spent years observing, collecting, and studying under the most isolated, severe, and primitive conditions — and relishing every minute of it!”
Selections from the Urbain J. Kinet Collection are below, to stoke some of your own wanderlust to explore this vast, diverse planet.
View more from the Urbain J. Kinet Collection at the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley on Flickr Commons.