Visualization in Geography

Visualization in Geography: Scopic Regimes in Geography Between Photogrammetry and Digital Cartography, ca. 1930–80

Boris Michel


Geographical visualization.From Hägerstrand, Thorsten (1967): The Computer and the Geographer. In: Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 42, 1–19.

Visuality and visual representation in the modern sciences and their role for the production of scientific knowledge are widely debated within the history of science and science studies. At the same time, very little work has been done from the internal perspective of the respective disciplines. Geography, as an empirical discipline at the intersection between natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities, is well situated to reflect on its own paradigms. Nevertheless, disciplinary history and the history of rationalities and knowledge only play a marginal role within German-speaking geography. At the same time it is one of the commonplaces of disciplinary self-description to state that geography is a visual discipline, a science in which knowledge is highly visual. This research project, therefore, aimed at the visuality of geographical knowledge and the scopic regimes of geography.

To approach these scopic regimes in German-speaking geography the project took a historiographic perspective, utilizing works in the history of science to engage in a geneaology of the geographical gaze between nineteenth-century modern cartography and the emergence of geographical information systems. Case studies between the introduction of photogrammetric techniques within geography in the 1930s and 1940s and early forms of digital cartography explored moments of transformations of scopic regimes in twentieth century German-speaking geography.