Producing and mobilizing geographical knowledge

A growing number of Nordic scholars are exploring various aspects of the history of knowledge. Recently, Johanna Skurnik (University of Turku) has received funding from the Academy of Finland for the project “Producing and mobilizing geographical knowledge in Finnish society, 1850s–1930s”. As a part of this project, she will be a visiting researcher at the Lund Centre for the History of Knowledge.

The project investigates the production and mobility of geographical knowledge in Finnish society. It examines the changes these processes caused in the material culture of geographical knowledge from the mid-19th century to the 1930s. The production infrastructure, quantity and reach of Finnish commercial geographic products transformed during this period. The project examines these changes as part of the transnational cartographic turns in Western societies. The project investigates, for instance, the production and business networks through which popular, commercial maps, globes and global geographic texts were introduced to Finnish society. It also examines the social relationships that Finns had with these materials by examining people’s engagement with them and their use in different environments such as schools, libraries, missionary stations and bookstores.

By combining perspectives from the history of knowledge, map history and material culture studies, the project contributes to research on the relationship between global information exchanges and capitalist print culture. Through its empirical results the project seeks to advance societal understanding of the significance of power-relations in past knowledge production and distribution processes. It also actively seeks to contribute to present-day topical discussions of knowledge, truth and authority by advancing understanding of how material practices contribute to the generation of knowledge systems.

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