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 effective media for the imagination, establishment and reproduction of spatial formats and spatial orders under the conditions of globalization processes since the mid-19th century. As media, maps contribute to the anchoring of collective notions of spatial formats and are thus also deeply embedded in the practices of spatial formatting.

The objects of investigation are therefore maps which can be assumed to be particularly effective in society. For this reason, geographical school atlases that were created in Germany and Russia/Soviet Union between about 1900 and today are the focus of research in this phase. 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.

In addition, digital maps for the education sector are also moving into the focus of interest in order to investigate the spatial image-forming effect of novel visualization concepts. In addition, we include related textbooks, teacher handbooks, reviews, articles, and archive materials in our analyses. We see the atlas makers and their environment (publishers, educational politicians, authors, cartographers, etc.) as important actors who depict "the world" in maps and thus have a decisive influence on the image of "the world" in society or societies that is to be learned. We ask what role spatial formats and spatial orders play in the visual mediation of spatial knowledge. We are also interested in how these are highlighted, consolidated and challenged or manifested through the combination, recombination and/or omission of certain map elements and visual-graphic implementation. In addition to graphic map signs, the arrangement of maps and other atlas elements, such as graphics, text modules and photos, play an important role in conveying spatial concepts.

The spectrum of country examples and the period of investigation of more than 100 years enables us to identify both synchronous and diachronic differences and developments. We have developed a methodology to decode the atlases and the maps they include in order to compare them with each other. In this way, we can trace changes in the atlases over time, which, in addition to technological and pedagogical development steps, are strongly influenced by processes and discourses of globalization. At the same time, the approach allows us to recognize commonalities and differences between "map cultures" and "map languages" of different regions of the world and also to comprehend standardization processes in the field of cartographic methodology and education, but also with regard to social concepts of space.


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.

Project information

Project team

Sebastian Lentz, Jana Moser, N.N., N.N.


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. +40 341 600 55-133

SFB 1199


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