Historical Geography, GIScience and Text: Mapping Landscapes of Time and Place.
In the West, geography as a discipline emerged from the twin pursuits of Strabo’s poetic impressions of place, and Herodotus’ chronicles of events and culture. Eratosthenes, who calculated the spherical nature of the Earth while keeper of the Great Library at Alexandria, and Ptolemy brought to the methods of measurement, scale and geometry to the discipline. Thus literature, history and geographical analysis (discursive, cartographical, phenomenological and statistical) have long been interrelated pursuits. Contemporarily, historical geography possesses tributaries which fountain from the robust humanistic academic traditions of many countries: England, Ireland, Sweden, France, Germany, and lesser so in North, Central and South America. The practice of historical geography complements approaches in cultural geography through a triangulation of discursive, cartographic and visual narrative styles, and primary, textual and archival data explorations, with both calibrated by the development of qualitative and quantitative methods, models and theories.
Such approaches intersect with geographical history’s focus on physical landscapes, climate and topography, -interests commensurate with the geosciences. By focusing on scales of agency, interaction, scientific inquiry and causation, geographical history maps the multiple variables that have shaped human and natural history, in the longue durée-a scale of time traditionally neglected in history, geography and cognate disciplines As W. Gordon East, in The Geography Behind Historyobserves:
The familiar analogy between geography and history as the stage and the drama is in several respects misleading, for whereas a play can be acted on any stage regardless of its particular features, the course of history can never be entirely unaffected by the varieties and changes of its settings. History, again, unlike drama, is not rehearsed before enactment, and so different and so changeful are its manifestations that it certainly lacks all unity of place, time and action.