Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science Drift 27, Rm. 032 Organized Session
26 Jul 2019 01:30 PM - 03:30 PM(Europe/Amsterdam)
20190726T1330 20190726T1530 Europe/Amsterdam Mapping

This session will focus on the use of maps and the practices of scientific mapping by different social groups and cultures over different periods of time. Discussions of eighteenth-century planetary mapping, nineteenth-century terrestrial and botanical mapping, and early twentieth-century climatological mapping will present a variety of approaches towards the representation of natural phenomena in space. The papers collectively will form a comparative approach to mapping, by exploring different attitudes towards a seemingly ubiquitous practice. Maps have often been regarded as embodiments of power that could be transferred to the possessor, or as the means by which to shape the way in which scientific knowledge was generated, transmitted, and understood. However, the papers will show that mapping was not always an obvious way to represent or manipulate knowledge, nor did it unambiguously confer authority on its practitioners. By exploring the use of maps in different scientific disciplines and periods, the waxing and waning of the power and value of maps, and the skills of their producers and owners, this session aims to open up a discussion of the historicity of mapping as a scientific practice.

Organized by Anne Secord

Drift 27, Rm. 032 History of Science Society 2019 meeting@hssonline.org

This session will focus on the use of maps and the practices of scientific mapping by different social groups and cultures over different periods of time. Discussions of eighteenth-century planetary mapping, nineteenth-century terrestrial and botanical mapping, and early twentieth-century climatological mapping will present a variety of approaches towards the representation of natural phenomena in space. The papers collectively will form a comparative approach to mapping, by exploring different attitudes towards a seemingly ubiquitous practice. Maps have often been regarded as embodiments of power that could be transferred to the possessor, or as the means by which to shape the way in which scientific knowledge was generated, transmitted, and understood. However, the papers will show that mapping was not always an obvious way to represent or manipulate knowledge, nor did it unambiguously confer authority on its practitioners. By exploring the use of maps in different scientific disciplines and periods, the waxing and waning of the power and value of maps, and the skills of their producers and owners, this session aims to open up a discussion of the historicity of mapping as a scientific practice.

Organized by Anne Secord

A Selenography in New Spain: Colonial Strategies for Mapping Local KnowledgeView Abstract
Organized Session 01:30 PM - 02:00 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/26 11:30:00 UTC - 2019/07/26 12:00:00 UTC
In 1770, a Mexican criollo naturalist and antiquary, Jose Antonio Alzate, published the first selenography in the Americas: this map of the moon was a small engraving inserted at the end of a pamphlet entitled Eclypse de Luna, dedicated to Charles III of Spain. The print was a copy of a widely circulated lunar image popularised in the annual ephemerides La Connoissance du Temps (promoted by the French Académie des Science) and it was intended to illustrate an astronomical observation that would correct the position of the Mexican Meridian in a world map. This work was sent to Paris alongside natural and geological specimens, maps of Mexico and other written reports. In this way, astronomical observations were meant to locate or relocate material evidence for the description of an unknown territory, as well as promote local science. In this paper I argue that Alzate’s mapping practices (based on the connection between practices for determining longitude and the description of the Mexican territory through the making of natural collections) do not just bring to the discussion another case of colonial appropriation of visual and material strategies for establishing local authority in international contexts: this instance also brings attention to the relationship between naturalism and astronomy in late eighteenth-century debates about temperament and race.
Presenters
NP
Nydia Pineda De Avila
Universidad Nacional Autónoma De México
What Do Maps Map? Finding the Way in Early Nineteenth-Century British BotanyView Abstract
Organized Session 02:00 PM - 02:30 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/26 12:00:00 UTC - 2019/07/26 12:30:00 UTC
Early nineteenth-century discoveries of rare and new plants by artisans in the north of England brought learned botanists to this relatively unknown region of Britain. However, travelling to the areas in which particular plants were known to have been found did not ensure that the desire of visiting collectors to see these plants in their native habitats was fulfilled. Not only were there few reliable maps of the wilder northern lands, but also no guarantee that the exact spot of a rare plant would be easy to find even if a traveling botanist managed to get to the correct locality. Botanists from outside the area were therefore reliant on artisans to act as guides. Historical evidence of this form of social interaction shows that it goes beyond a simple model of the appropriation of local knowledge. Instead, it brings to light different practices for knowing the land and different conceptions of what counted as knowledge of nature. Learned botanists tended to view not only the land but also knowledge itself as a form of mapping: they argued that information as well as the terrain required to be seen as if from a pinnacle in order to produce scientific generalisations. In contrast, artisans had little conception of maps either as geographical or conceptual tools. Instead, the forms of spatial knowledge they cultivated were more like itineraries. In my paper, I will investigate how mapping and maps provided both advantages and limitations in the attainment of botanical knowledge.
Presenters
AS
Anne Secord
Darwin Correspondence Project
Turning Meteorological Data into Climate Science: Maps, Diagrams and Formulas in Germany, 1871-1914View Abstract
Organized Session 02:30 PM - 03:00 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/26 12:30:00 UTC - 2019/07/26 13:00:00 UTC
Around 1900, Germany housed several large commercial firms for map making, such as Justus Perthes in Gotha and Velhagen & Klasing in Leipzig. The first especially had a large impact on academic climatography through its scientific flagship journal Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen. This, together with the daily weather maps produced by the climatographer Wladimir Köppen at the Deutsche Seewarte from 1876, gave scientific map making in the German climate sciences an academic prestige never before possessed, even in the time of Humboldt. According to Nils Güttler, the mass-produced maps of the late nineteenth century produced new scientific principles and gave scientists and their audiences a seemingly objective Totaleindrück that data and thick description were not able to give. In the early twentieth century, however, meteorology and climatology developed into dynamical sciences thanks to the new practice of aerology, the more-than-daily collection of atmospheric data from weather balloons at different heights. Climatological maps increasingly had to compete with other forms of representation, especially mathematical formulas and diagrams. How should one represent altitude or development over time? Techniques had developed to add more than latitude and longitude on maps, such as isolines, colors, and arrows, but sometimes formulas and altitude diagrams were better in giving a Totaleindrück. I will examine the different strategies of climatological data representation by German aerologists such as Wladimir Köppen and Alfred Wegener and the Norwegian Vilhelm Bjerknes who taught in Germany, to show that ultimately maps had advantages over diagrams and especially formulas: a larger audience.
Presenters Robert-Jan Wille
Descartes Centre / Political History, Utrecht University
Commentary: MappingView Abstract
Organized Session 03:00 PM - 03:30 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/26 13:00:00 UTC - 2019/07/26 13:30:00 UTC
Commentary on the papers presented by Nydia Pineda De Avila, Anne Secord, and Robert-Jan Wille
Presenters
MB
Megan Barford
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Darwin Correspondence Project
Descartes Centre / Political History, Utrecht University
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK
Ms. Meira Gold
HPS, University of Cambridge
Graduate Student HPS, Utrecht University
University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
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