The Preservation of Paradox: Bismarck Towers as National Metaphor and Local Reality

  • Gordon CromleyEmail author
  • Chris Post
Part of the Historical Geography and Geosciences book series (HIGEGE)


Solving geographic questions is a complex task. To address key geographic issues, the discipline has developed a wide variety of research techniques. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have, as a tool and sub-discipline, become ubiquitous for scholars looking to address issues tied to patterns on the surface of the earth. A key trend within GIS has been to incorporate alternative frameworks for software and research design. Narrative tools have been used in a variety of ways with respect to such systems while alternative types of data beyond traditional GIS archetypes have been explored. In the past several years, humanities-based scholarship has made key contributions to reframing what GIS can be. This chapter follows a humanities GIS framework while incorporating standard GIS tools to allow us to rethink geographical and historical processes. Commemorative research represents the complexity inherent in a geographic approach. While memorials are the realization of a myriad of local drivers over time, memorials also have contexts grounded in larger geographic realities. The network of memorials to Otto von Bismarck, first minister-president of the Kingdom of Prussia and later the first chancellor of the German Empire, represents the tension between place and wider geographic discourses. Approximately 240 Bismarck Tower memorials were built between 1867 and 1935. While each tower is grounded within a specific local narrative, they were meant to provide a link to a larger discourse on national identity within the community. This chapter uses kernel density estimation (KDE) as a geo-visualization and Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) technique to uncover national patterns of the tower network that can guide our thinking of specific memorials and how we might better understand their development.


Commemoration Nationalism HGIS Memorialization German empire 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyKent State University at StarkNorth CantonUSA

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