A New Kind of Map for a New Kind of World: 1919, the Peace, and the Rise of Geographical Cartography

  • Peter NekolaEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


The years immediately following the First World War saw an increasingly widespread acceptance of a concept of the geographical understood not as the description of location, but as the study of the earth’s surface conditions. This concept was philosophically unique in several ways. Firstly, representing conditions did not entail representing discrete units or objects with fixed or necessary identities. Conditions were understood as neither purely subjective nor objective but as dynamic phenomena subject to informed interpretation. Secondly, maps were designed and arranged to encourage correlation among such conditions, thus making substantive geographical knowledge of an area possible. This correlation process and the maps it employed did not assume or represent discrete political units, empires, or nations, as essential categories. Arguably, this concept of the geographical effectively constituted a critique of such units, ultimately regarding them as inadequate assumptions for substantive geographical study. I suggest that the timing of the articulation of this “geographical cartography” was no coincidence. A profound dissatisfaction with territorial thinking as a worldview had been a strong intellectual current after the War, as was the appeal of increasingly compelling alternatives. The articulation of geographical cartography and the concomitant rejection of territorial maps in many publications after the War may be considered an example of such dissatisfaction.


Time Survey Geographical Study Geographical Knowledge Territorial Claim Geographical Reasoning 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of CartographyThe Newberry LibraryChicagoUSA

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