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Northern Maps: Re-negotiating space and place in the Northern Isles and Norway in the eighteenth century
Centre for Nordic Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland. (CRS)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5434-6352
2015 (English)In: Northern Scotland, ISSN 0306-5278, Vol. 6, no 1, 24-48 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In a 2010 public lecture, ‘Loss and Gain: The Social History of Knowledge, 1750–2000’,2 Peter Burke pointed out just some of the significant social processes that have taken place since the mid-eighteenth century in Europe and the world. Reform, quantification, secularisation, professionalisation, democratisation, nationalisation, globalisation and technologisation have all played an important part in the way knowledge has been constructed.3 This statement relates very well to what happened to maps and mapping in Northern Europe during the eighteenth century. The relationship between representations and descriptions of place changed, influenced by the images and activities of map-making as a cultural and historical practice, and the political and social context of the period, particularly the European Enlightenment.4 Landscapes were quantified and re-arranged visually, via the map and chart. Nature and landscape, no longer seen solely as God's creation and subject to his will, became secular spaces and human territory, providing resources and wealth for humanity, and the basis for the creation of individual and communal identities.5

This article argues that cartography and topographical description played a significant role in the way in which areas of the Scottish Northern Isles were represented and visualised, as a regional space, after the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, and, alongside that, the development of the concept of a British state and nation.6 Not only did topographical literature become more professionalised and commercially-oriented during the eighteenth century, but the visual representations of territories created in maps and charts became part of a network of cultural practices that both linked and divided historical regions across the British Isles. On the one hand, map-making re-negotiated national spaces in order to contribute to the formation the United Kingdom or Great Britain (itself a complex national entity) and, on the other hand, it provided an opportunity to re-create a sense of place or Northern regional identity, continuing to be part of an intercultural Northern European maritime region linked by the North Sea.7 As can be seen in the following case studies from the Shetland Islands and Western Norway, at ‘image level’,8 the change in perceptions about a region's identity (or one's own, within that region), often follows a long process, ‘since shifts in the attitudes of mental mapping tend to slowly follow changes in political and social conditions, mixing with philosophical and aesthetic conventions of the time’.9

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 6, no 1, 24-48 p.
Keyword [en]
cartography, cultural transfer, scotland, norway, history, History, Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-47020DOI: 10.3366/nor.2015.0086OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-47020DiVA: diva2:1062886
Available from: 2017-01-09 Created: 2016-11-04 Last updated: 2017-04-20Bibliographically approved

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