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Project information

Project team

Sebastian LentzJana MoserPhilipp MeyerSofia Gavrilova Enock Seth Nyamador


University of Leipzig

Duration of project

Phase 1: 01/2016 – 12/2019
Phase 2: 01/2020 – 12/2023

Funded by

German Research Association (SFB 1199)

Further information

Dr. Jana Moser
Tel. +49 341 600 55-133

Go to the SFB 1199 website

Maps and atlases as mediators and producers of space (knowledge) under the global condition

Project C5 – Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1199: Processes of spatialisation under the global condition

The project investigates maps as a medium that has been very influential in disseminating spatial formats and spatial orders in an increasingly globalised world since the mid-19th century. Maps contribute to the anchoring of collective notions of spatial formats and are thus also deeply embedded in the practices of spatial formatting. The focus of the project is on geographical school atlases created from about 1900 to the present in Germany and Russia/Soviet Union. These are also compared with the results of the first phase on school atlases that were used in China/Taiwan, the USA, France, Belgium and Canada in the field of higher education.

Another emphasis is on digital maps for the education sector. The project uses them to investigate the spatial image-forming effect of various approaches of visualization. In order to shed light on the backgrounds and contexts of the development of school atlases, the project team is also looking at related textbooks, teacher handbooks, reviews, articles, and archival materials. Furthermore, the project focusses on the makers of atlases and their environment (publishers, educational politicians, authors, cartographers, etc.). All these actors have a great influence on what images we form about the world as individuals and as society.

Finally, we ask what role spatial formats and spatial orders play in the visual mediation of spatial knowledge and how these are highlighted, consolidated or challenged in atlases by combining or omitting certain map elements. In order to answer the question of how spatial concepts are conveyed through atlases, it is necessary to look not only at individual map symbols but also at the arrangement of maps, graphics, texts, and photographs.

The spectrum of regional examples and the investigation period of more than hundred years allow comparative perspectives in regional as well as in temporal terms. A methodology developed in the project is used to decode atlases and the maps they contain. In this way, we can trace changes in the atlases over time, which, in addition to technological and pedagogical development steps, are influenced by processes and discourses of globalization.

At the same time, the approach allows to recognize commonalities and differences between "map cultures" and "map languages" of different world regions. This enables us to comprehend standardization processes in the field of cartographic methodology and education, but also with regard to social concepts of space. In the second funding phase of the project, we therefore also investigate the transnational exchange of geographical and pedagogical concepts between Russia/Soviet Union and Germany.


Cherrier, Pierre / Moser, Jana / Lentz, Sebastian / Pflug, Laura (2019): Raumformate und Kartensprachen erkennen. Vorschlag einer Methodik zur Analyse von Karten und (Schul)Atlanten als Vermittler von Weltbildern unter Globalisierungsprozessen. SFB 1199 Working paper series des SFB 1199 an der Universität Leipzig, Nr. 19. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag.

Moser, Jana / Meyer, Philipp (2019): The Use of Color in Maps. In: Bock von Wülfingen, Bettina (Hrsg.): Science in Color – Visualizing Achromatic Knowledge. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter: 163–179.

Pflug, Laura (2019): From ‘All Under Heaven’ to ‘China in the World’: Chinese Visual Imaginations from the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. In: Storms, Martijn / Cams, Mario / Demhardt, Imre Josef / Ormeling, Ferjan (Eds.): Mapping Asia: Cartographic Encounters Between East and West. Cham: Springer: 247–263.

Pflug, Laura (2019): A View from Inside: Chinese Mapping of the World against the Backdrop of Colonial Experience. In: Mapping Empires: Colonial Cartographies of Land and Sea. Proceedings of the Joint International Symposium of the ICA Commission and the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford, 2018. Cham.

Harvey, Francis (2018): Die fortbestehende Bedeutung von Herbert Bayers World Geo-Graphic Atlas von 1953. In: Kartographische Nachrichten 68 (4): 202–207.

Moser, Jana (2018): Neogeographie – Über Chancen und Herausforderungen für die kartographische Forschung. In: Kartographische Nachrichten 68 (3): 113–119.

Moser, Jana / Ipatow, Natalia (2018): Einmaleins der Webkartographie (explanatory video). URL: (06.12.18).

Moser, Jana (2017): Vertraute und unbekannte Weltsichten: Auf dem Flug zu einer Tagung in Washington DC. In: Blog SFB 1199. URL:, 28.07.2017.