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Socio and politico-geographical perspectives on cartography and mapping in the digital age: two research projects on OpenStreetMap

Date & Time:
13:00:00 - 14:00:00,
Monday 9 June, 2014


Maps categorise, define, arrange, locate, designate and thereby (re-)produce certain conceptions of the world. Since the 1980s, “critical cartography” has emerged as subfield in the social sciences that analyses the social embeddedness of cartography and mapping as well as the significance of geographic information and cartographic (re-)presentations for the (re-) production of specific world views – and the marginalisation of possible others. Critical cartography has increasingly drawn attention to the ways maps are used, and to the practices, conventions, and techniques of map-making, questioning how these practices and techniques “work in the world”.

At the same time, the whole field of geographic information and cartographic presentations has been undergoing a fundamental transformation, due to digitization, the proliferation of geographic information systems (GIS), the growing importance of localized (geo-referenced) information for the internet (the “Geoweb“), the growing importance of new corporate actors like Google and the rise of collaborative web based projects. Socio-scientific engagement with this transformation can build upon the approaches of “critical cartography” but has to consider to a much higher degree the importance of techniques and practices for the collection, organization, and use of geographic information.

A focus of the engagement with the Geoweb in the social science lies upon the open, interactive projects of volunteered geographic information like OpenStreetMap – sometimes labelled as “the crowdsourced Wikipedia of cartography”. I will present two ongoing research projects, one project dealing with the (re-)presentation of religious buildings in traditional state based and in crowdsourced cartography and the other project dealing with OpenStreetMap in the regional context of Israel/Palestine. Both projects question the extent to which projects like OpenStreetMap represent an “opening” and “democratisation” of geographic information and cartographic presentations, and aim at analysing exclusions, conflicts, and hegemonies that are (re-)produced within this crowdsourced cartographies.

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  • Name: Prof. Dr. Georg Glasze
  • Affiliation: Institute of Geography, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg/Germany and Visitor
    to the Oxford Internet Institute
  • Role:
  • URL:
  • Bio: Georg is holds the chair of Cultural Geography at the University Erlangen-Nürnberg and is member of the Erlangen Centre Digital Social Sciences and Humanities. His interests include Critical Cartography and Geoweb-Studies.