Crossing the boundaries of knowledge: historical geographies of mobility, circulation, and transculturalism

Call for Papers – International Conference of Historical Geographers

Warsaw, 15-20 July 2018

Crossing the boundaries of knowledge: historical geographies of mobility, circulation, and transculturalism

A considerable part of the geographical tradition has been constructed around national schools of thought, academic institutions, and intellectual discourses. A prominent line of research in the histories of geography thus addresses the institutionalisation and nature of these ‘national geographies’, focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries. Even contemporary geographical scholarship is organised in mostly nationally-orientated associations and evolves around networks shaped by linguistic and cultural affinity. Drawing upon recent research on the mobilities of knowledge and the geographies of internationalism, this session explores practices that have transgressed the multiple boundaries of knowledge and technologies through mobilities, encounters and exchanges, translations, and various forms of transculturalism in order to understand how these have shaped the construction, circulation, reception, and use of geographical knowledge over the past centuries.

Many studies have addressed the importance of multilingualism and the practice of crossing national and linguistic borders for early definitions of ‘modern’ geography, for instance in the case of Alexander von Humboldt. The constitutive nature of an international and multilingual dimension has also begun to be reconstructed for the intellectual circuit of the anarchist geographers Elisée Reclus, Pyotr Kropotkin, and Lev Mechnikov. Far less is known about the wider mobilities and networks of individuals producing, translating, and transforming geographical knowledges from the analytical perspective of formal academic infrastructures, such as different disciplines, institutions, publications, and events, and how the international and interdisciplinary exchanges these facilitated contributed to the formation and change of knowledge centres and their networks; transcultural experiences and epistemic communities; as well as geographical and other knowledges and imaginations within and beyond the academy.

We are particularly interested in studies examining how knowledges crossed national, cultural, linguistic, and even disciplinary boundaries, and what kind of empowerments, challenges, and impacts emerged from this for those beings, matters, and meanings involved. To this end, we welcome especially (but not exclusively) contributions on:

  • Historical geographies of transnational practices in intellectual history
  • Biographical and bibliographical approaches to geographers whose work was characterised by international, transnational, or multilingual approaches
  • Historical geographies of academic and scholarly mobilities
  • The experience of exile in the production of geographical knowledge
  • Historical geographies of social and cultural difference, including language, cultural practices, gender, and race
  • Transculturation in mapping, e.g. the inclusion of indigenous knowledge
  • Historical geographies of reception and translation, both linguistic and cultural, questioning the concept of ‘true translation’
  • Geography and multilingualism
  • Historical geographies of the international circulation of books and printed journals
  • Geography and transculturalism
  • Historical geographies of internationalism
  • Historical geographies of mobile knowledges and technologies

Please send an abstract of 200-250 words (for a paper of c. 15-20 minutes) to and by Friday, 29 September 2017. For more details on the International Conference of Historical Geographers in Warsaw from 15-20 July 2018, see


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