The idea of ‘Europe’ in eighteenth century German geographical thought
My dissertation project investigates the significance of the idea of ‘Europe’ in the eighteenth century German states. More particularly, it examines how German geographers and other segments of the emerging, educated middle class described, represented and understood Europa. The project also aims to determine how such understandings of Europe related to ‘Enlightenment geography’ and the ‘historical geographies of Enlightenment’. The project’s sub-topics include:
Sites of knowledge creation.
My project also investigates the salience that sites of knowledge creation had for the generation of knowledge about Europa. I’m particularly interested in how university towns, schools and scientific academies influenced the shape, nature and diffusion of geographical knowledge created at those sites.
This project is not simply about ideas of Europe. It is also about the practical significance and pragmatic value that ideas of Europe—and geographical knowledge more broadly—had for students, school teachers, clerics and statesmen in the eighteenth century German states.
Philosophy and geography.
Here, I’m interested in the links between developments in geographical thought, natural sciences and philosophy. More specifically, I’m concerned with Immanuel Kant’s Vorlesungen über physische Geographie (Lectures on physical geography) and their position within broader intellectual developments in the eighteenth century.