Placing History, Historicizing Geography: a Dialogue between Geography and History

15 03 2013

As disciplines, geography and history have long been understood by their practitioners to be tightly interconnected and indeed overlapping. While the two fields have occupied a shared intellectual terrain, geographers and historians have grasped the relations between their fields in markedly different ways. Historians have traditionally conceptualized geography as an ‘auxiliary’ study to history, while geographers have often neglected history and attended to the present. And, with a few exceptions, both historians and geographers have left the relations between their fields unexamined. Recently, a ‘spatial turn’ has swept through many social science and humanities disciplines, history included, prompting a renewed assessment of some of the presumed dissimilarities. Yet this ‘spatial turn’ has also demonstrated that geography’s relation to history remains unclear. Some questions that return include: do historians and geographers ask different questions in their research? What constitutes evidence for historians and geographers, and what demands do each make of their evidence?

This interdisciplinary workshop provides a forum where historians and geographers can reflect on the pertinence of these questions within their own research, examining key areas of overlap. It aims to foster an earnest dialogue among scholars working on the boundary between history and geography, and to contribute towards working across disciplinary boundaries more productively. To this end, it aims to identify historians’ and geographers’ empirical, theoretical and methodological commonalities. In turn, it considers how such commonalities might facilitate more fruitful and sustained cross-disciplinary scholarship.

Transportation details can be found here.

“Placing History, Historicizing Geography: a Cross-disciplinary Dialogue on the Relations between Geography and History”

A tri-campus University of Toronto Research Workshop: March 25-26, 2013

Bertie Mandelblatt, (History, Caribbean Studies, University of Toronto, St. George)
Dean Bond, (Geography, University of Toronto, St. George)

* Melanie Newton (History, University of Toronto St. George, Caribbean Studies Program)
* David Lambert (History, University of Warwick)


March 25, 2013 – University of Toronto, Mississauga: Faculty Club

Geography, Environmental History and Natural Resources in Canada
-Matthew Hatvany, (Géographie, Université Laval): “History, Geography and Environmental Change – Ontological and Epistemological Reasons for Combining Sources”
-Laurel Sefton MacDowell (Historical Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga): “Writing An Environmental History of Canada: Process, Disciplines, and Results”
-Declan Cullen (Geography, Syracuse University): “What to do about Newfoundland?”

Contesting Knowledge in Geography and History
-Anne Godlewska and Laura Schaefli (Geography, Queen’s University): “Historical Geographies of Unawareness: The Challenge of Theorizing Ignorance”
-Pierre Desrochers (Geography, University of Toronto Mississauga): “Long-distance Trade and Food Security: Some Historical Perspective on the Case against Locavorism”

March 26, 2013 – University of Toronto, St. George: Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St George
Street, Room 2098

Empire and the Geographic Imagination in the 19th-century
-Ernesto Bassi (History, Cornell University): “Spatial Configuration as Historical Process: Ships and Sailors in the Construction of a Greater Caribbean Space during the Age of Revolutions”
-Kirsten Greer (History, University of Warwick): “”The Study of Geography of the Past”: Denaturalizing Faunal Regions and Empire”
-Jayeeta Sharma (History and Cultural Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough): “Intimacies, Mobilities, Borders: The Hidden Himalayas”

Mapping Territories, Lives and Cultures in History
-Suzanne Conklin Akbari (English and Medieval Studies, University of Toronto): “Remembered Territory: Medieval Maps of Urban Jerusalem”
-Paul Cohen (History, University of Toronto St. George): “Language Maps and Their Fictions: Thinking Spatially about the Histories of Languages”
-Madalina Veres (History, University of Pittsburgh): “Trans-imperial Lives: Habsburg Map-Makers in the Age of Enlightenment”

ALL ARE WELCOME: please contact organizers if you would like to attend (so we have accurate numbers) or for more information.

Bertie Mandelblatt:
Dean Bond:



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