31 August 2020: John completes month at Gotha Research Centre


John completed his term as a Herzog-Ernst-Fellow at the Gotha Research Centre at the University of Erfurt, Germany during August 2020.

The Justus Perthes Collection in Gotha is a unique repository of nineteenth and early twentieth-century polar cartography. It is home to one of Germany’s largest maritime map collections and combines personal papers and the correspondence records of the Justus Perthes Geographical Establishment. As such, the collection presents a singular archive for understanding the reciprocal and transnational nature of nineteenth-century Arctic science and cartography.

John’s research for the case study, ‘The Open Polar Sea’, as part of the Arctic Cultures project, examines the history of knowledge transfers about the central Arctic region during the long nineteenth century. Theories of an open polar sea and land across the Arctic Ocean galvanised scientific networks and knowledge communities throughout the North Atlantic world. In Germany, the Justus Perthes Geographical Establishment constituted a central hub for collecting, organizing, and distributing geographical knowledges of the Arctic regions. During his time in Gotha, John consulted the cartographic collections, material objects, correspondence records, and personal papers of the Geographical Establishment. Together, these collections are key to understanding the history of polar science and geography and its legacies for the ways in which we make sense of the Arctic regions today.

For the warm welcome and the many excellent conversations about the collections throughout his visit, John would like to thank Petra Weigel, Sven Ballenthin, Felix Schürmann, Stefanie Klamm, Erik Liebscher, and Kristina Petri.

More images from John’s research time in Gotha can be found @ArcticCult

Image: Cartographers’ tools for copper engraving. Photograph by J. Woitkowitz, 25 August 2020.