Gotha Research Library Gotha Research Centre Knowledge, Spaces, and Media

Charts - Oceans

Iris Schröder & Felix Schürmann: Maps have hitherto led a marginal existence in the history of globalization. Sea and ocean charts receive even less attention, despite their unique visualization of maritime spaces and their inherent global connections. The aim of the joint project is to use sea and ocean charts to tell a little-known story in the period of transformation dating from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century.

07/2018 - 04/2022

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) :
1 100 000 Euro

Project management

Holder of the Professorship for Global history (Historisches Seminar)
Dr. Felix Schürmann
Project manager and coordinator of the research project network "Karten – Meere. Für eine Geschichte der Globalisierung vom Wasser aus" (Centre for Transcultural Studies / Perthes Collection)

The joint research association holds the assumption that maritime maps were in two ways a precondition for the major acceleration of aggregation in global integration starting in the middle of the 19th Century: One the one hand, nautical charts in their function as instruments of navigation as well as media of exploration and surveying made new connections across the oceans possible in the first place. On the other hand, nautical charts had a central role as representations of interconnectedness in forming and popularising the imagination of the globe as a ubiquitous and connected space of possibility.

This foundational assumption serves as the starting point for writing a history of global change from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century told from the sea and trough maps. The joint research association is therefore guided by the thesis, that this deep material and technical transformation is comprehensively tangible through nautical charts and ocean maps - these being a visualisation of the prerequisites and fault lines of a global world. Our research is connected with the goal of presenting nautical charts and ocean maps to a wider public and to utilize their potential as historical sources for histories of globalization, leading to a cultural scientific discourse beyond the specialized history of cartography and paving the way for future research into the relationship between cartography and globalization.

Further Information on the Project

can be found on the project website "Charts - Oceans. For a History of Globalisation from the Water" (Karten - Meere) on the pages of the Forschungskolleg.

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