Geography and Revolution

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Overview


A term with myriad associations, revolution is commonly understood in its intellectual, historical, and sociopolitical contexts. Until now, almost no attention has been paid to revolution and questions of geography. Geography and Revolution examines the ways that place and space matter in a variety of revolutionary situations.

David N. Livingstone and Charles W. J. Withers assemble a set of essays that are themselves revolutionary in uncovering not only the geography of revolutions but the role of geography in revolutions. Here, scientific revolutions—Copernican, Newtonian, and Darwinian—ordinarily thought of as placeless, are revealed to be rooted in specific sites and spaces. Technical revolutions—the advent of print, time-keeping, and photography—emerge as inventions that transformed the world's order without homogenizing it. Political revolutions—in France, England, Germany, and the United States—are notable for their debates on the nature of political institutions and national identity.

Gathering insight from geographers, historians, and historians of science, Geography and Revolution is an invitation to take the where as seriously as the who and the when in examining the nature, shape, and location of revolutions.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Historical Geography

"[The case studies that play with the major terms of the title] address the geography of revolutions, revolutions in geographical science, and the fate of geography during revolutions —usually more than one of these at once, and often with a fashionable reflexiveness (the geography of geography in the Scientific Revolution, or the geography of technical revolutions in geography)....The volume's principal contribution [is] continuing to build the case for the historical importance of geographical science and its salience in cultural and political history."

— Michael Dettelbach

Annals of the Association of American Geographers

"The scholarship is excellent, the writing and editing of high quality, and the dialectic of geogrpahy and revolution at the heart of the project is interesting and productive."

— Peter O. Muller

British Journal of the History of Science

"Geography and Revolution serves its purpose well. No longer taking as a given the grand narratives and 'big-picture' histories of revolutions, it successfully puts 'revolutions' (scientific, technical and sociopolitical) in ther respective places and spaces."
Nuncius

Like Livingstone and Wither's previous editorial contribution, Geography and Enlightenment, Geography and Revolution highlights the important contributions geographical thinking can make to the history of science."

— Daniela Bleichmar

Books & Culture

"Primarily intended for a specialized academic audience, these essays will also profit the interested general reader, providing a glimpse into the way the discipline of geography views the world and insights into the roots of contemorary debates on the perceptival nature of knowledge."

— Janel Curry

Journal of Regional Science

"Whether harnessed to Hartshornian, Kuhnian, Foucaultian, Deleuzian, Latourian, or any number of less nominal approaches, the field has been cross-ploughed and sown with a considerable effort yielding respectable results. Of course, much more remains to be done. The well-edited and executed volume is testament to the first proposition and points in multiple ways toward the second."

— Kent Mathewson

Journal of Historical Geography - Michael Dettelbach

"[The case studies that play with the major terms of the title] address the geography of revolutions, revolutions in geographical science, and the fate of geography during revolutions —usually more than one of these at once, and often with a fashionable reflexiveness (the geography of geography in the Scientific Revolution, or the geography of technical revolutions in geography)....The volume's principal contribution [is] continuing to build the case for the historical importance of geographical science and its salience in cultural and political history."

Annals of the Association of American Geographers - Peter O. Muller

"The scholarship is excellent, the writing and editing of high quality, and the dialectic of geogrpahy and revolution at the heart of the project is interesting and productive."
Nuncius - Daniela Bleichmar

Like Livingstone and Wither's previous editorial contribution, Geography and Enlightenment, Geography and Revolution highlights the important contributions geographical thinking can make to the history of science."
Books & Culture - Janel Curry

"Primarily intended for a specialized academic audience, these essays will also profit the interested general reader, providing a glimpse into the way the discipline of geography views the world and insights into the roots of contemorary debates on the perceptival nature of knowledge."
Journal of Regional Science - Kent Mathewson

"Whether harnessed to Hartshornian, Kuhnian, Foucaultian, Deleuzian, Latourian, or any number of less nominal approaches, the field has been cross-ploughed and sown with a considerable effort yielding respectable results. Of course, much more remains to be done. The well-edited and executed volume is testament to the first proposition and points in multiple ways toward the second."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226487335
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/15/2005
  • Series: Science * Culture Ser.
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


David N. Livingstone is professor of geography and intellectual history at Queen's University, Belfast. Charles W. J. Withers is professor of geography at the University of Edinburgh. They collaborated previously on Geography and Enlightenment, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Read an Excerpt


Geography and Revolution
The University of Chicago Press
Copyright © 2005
The University of Chicago
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-226-48733-5


Chapter One ON GEOGRAPHY AND REVOLUTION

* * *

David N. Livingstone and Charles W. J. Withers

A state of warfare generally produces the first improvements in [a country's] geography. William Roy, 1785

To a revolutionary degree man changes geography as he goes along. Isaiah Bowman, 1946

This book is an exploration of the ways in which ideas of geography and of revolution and the relationships between them may be understood. It is an attempt to bring together insights from geographers, historians, and historians of science concerning the importance of geographical thinking and recognition of the difference that space makes to an understanding of the nature of revolutions, however that term has been used. In developing these ideas, an important initial distinction may be made between the geography of revolution and geography in revolution.

In the first sense, questions to do with the relationships between the celestial and terrestrial worlds and with the establishment of "modern" methodological procedures for the study of nature in what has traditionally been considered the Scientific Revolution have been shown to have taken shape in particular locations, to have traveled unevenly and to have been received differently across Europe. So, too, the "Technical Revolution" that comprised the printing press and the printed book had varying locational and distributional expression across the globe. Print-not least printed maps-helped revolutionize conceptions of the known world. This is true not just in the sense of the new technical forms that books or maps assumed. Historians of the book have considered the attendant notion of the "Reading Revolution"-a revolution not just in how but also in where the printed word was read-silently in private, aloud and to others in public spaces, and so on. Similarly, what economic and social historians term the "Industrial Revolution" was not just a matter of shifts in the technologies of production and in the social consequences for the workforces involved in new systems of organization and management. The Industrial Revolution was also, profoundly, a matter of geography: of systems of industrial production that relocated people and machines as never before, of delivery mechanisms that acted to diminish the costs of space-even to "collapse" geography-and of independent innovations by others elsewhere and at other times. There are, then, recoverable geographies of revolutions in science, the printed word, reading, industrial production, and technical change. Put in general terms, these geographies of revolution concern the sites of production, whether of ideas, books, or factory systems, the movement over space of thoughts and things, and the sites and social spaces in which these developments were differently received in different places. In one way or another and in a variety of geographical and historical contexts, these matters of production and reception in space and of movement over space are the central concerns of this book.

In the second sense, geography as a form of knowledge has been deeply implicated in revolutions of various sorts. In the Scientific Revolution, for example, the subject had close associations with Newtonianism. Concerns to bring mathematical precision to the mapping of the globe, the correction of nautical charts, and the empirical harvesting of the world's natural phenomena were all part and parcel of the "Newtonian Revolution." In the "Darwinian Revolution," questions of biogeographical distribution, the relationships between organism and habitat, and explanations rooted in the determining agency of geographical difference are central. In the political upheaval that was the American Revolution, or in mid-seventeenth-century England, geography books were used as vehicles of debate concerning the nature of political constitutions, the right of the individual, and matters of national identity. To explain such concerns is not to see a centrality to the "discipline" of geography, not least because most historians of the subject do not now subscribe to the view of a single essential subject unchanged over time and space. It is, rather, to identify the role of what was taken to be geography, at different times and in different places, in respect to different revolutions and to consider how geographical knowledge in such contexts had a bearing upon the forms taken by the revolutions themselves.

The chapters that follow explore the connections between the geography of and in revolution in a variety of ways. Underlying all the studies are questions to do with geography understood as a set of related practices by which the world has been encountered and represented, and with the language and concepts of geography as an aid to the explanation of revolutionary phenomena. The chapters have been grouped together in three parts addressing scientific, technical, and political revolutions. The introduction to each part elaborates in more detail upon the individual concerns and intentions of the authors and discusses how their particular studies relate to our larger concerns. In this introductory chapter, however, in order to establish further the connections between geography and revolution, we begin by reviewing the diverse literatures regarding the term "revolution."

Defining Revolution

Agricultural, chemical, Copernican, green, industrial, information, military, Neolithic, political, reading, scientific, urban: the term "revolution" is associated with a variety of intellectual and practical circumstances. Although the term was already in use during the late fourteenth century in reference to celestial bodies, the label "revolution" established its own distinctive identity with the publication in 1543 of Copernicus's account of the motion of the heavenly spheres, De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium. Within half a century, the word was being applied to affairs of state in a way that departed materially from its earlier associations. In its Italian form, rivoluzione, the term had been in use during the late Middle Ages as a neutral description of change in sovereignty. But from the late sixteenth century, revolution began to acquire its modern political resonance as the overthrowing of one regime and its replacement by a successor. Its deployment in the mid-seventeenth century to describe those events in England that are routinely gathered under the rubric of the "English Revolution" was crucial in this regard. So, too, was its association with the overthrow in 1688 of the Stuart dynasty-the "Glorious Revolution"-and, perhaps even more important, with the French Revolution of the late eighteenth century.

Two further developments in the eighteenth century acted to cement the political connotations of the term. The first was the work of French Enlightenment thinkers like Denis Diderot, whose entry "Révolution" in the Encyclopédie associated the word with "le gouvernment d'un état" and the Baron Montesquieu who deployed the term in his influential L'Esprit des Lois (1748) to mark fundamental political change. Such writings helped voice a conviction that the uncovering of the fundamental laws of nature that had been secured by the new natural philosophy of the previous century-the "Scientific Revolution" as it later came to be known-necessarily presaged the unlocking of the laws of the social order. The revolution in understanding nature prefaced revolutions in understanding humans-in their social and political organizations as well as in their place in nature.

The second development was the retrospective application of the term "revolution" to capture the events surrounding the American War of Independence, a rhetorical affirmation that did much to fix the political coordinates of the label in the minds of contemporaries. The appearance of such works as Richard Price's Observations on the American Revolution (1784) and of David Ramsay's History of the American Revolution (1789) confirmed just how successful commentators such as Thomas Paine had been in reflecting upon the ideas of both revolution and republic. Revolution had hitherto denoted, in one form or another, the conception of a completed historical cycle. Even in the political realm, it conveyed the sense that the transition from one regime to another-even if it involved violence-resolved itself in the restoration of an original state. The English Civil War, for example, found its culmination with the restoration of the monarchy. But now, with the French Revolution and with Paine's post facto apologia, the idea took hold that revolution necessarily involved innovation and replacement, not a return to a previous state or condition. In The Rights of Man (1791), Paine observed:

What we formerly called Revolutions were little more than a change of persons, or an alternation of local circumstances. They rose and fell like things of course, and had nothing in their existence or fate that could influence them beyond the spot that produced them. But what we now see in the world ... are a renovation of the natural order of things, a system of principles as universal as truth and the existence of man, and combining moral with political happiness and natural prosperity.

For Stan Taylor, drawing out the wider implications of Paine's exegesis, revolution would henceforth be associated with "social restructuring of a universally-applicable kind." In the hands of Hegel and Marx, of course, revolution's ties with social progress through political overturn would be forever secured.

Underlying the transfer of the language of revolution from celestial mechanics to the world of politics was a widespread belief in the intrinsic connections between the microcosm and the macrocosm, and the astrological and social conviction that the motions of the stars had a correspondence in human affairs. In his contemporary account of the history of the English rebellion, for example, the Earl of Clarendon insisted in the famous ninth book of his History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England begun in the Year 1641 that the "motions of these last twenty years ... have proceeded from the evil influence of a malignant star." When conjoined to the accepted and widespread imperatives of Christian eschatology, which laid out in chiliastic fashion a succession of world empires moving irresistibly toward Armageddon, the idea of revolution bound together into intellectual coherence the astronomical, the theological, the social, and the political.

The concept of revolution in these senses has not remained restricted to the celestial and political spheres. It has found favor among historians as an explanatory device in relation to technological and intellectual affairs. In large measure, this owes much to Marxist theory, which, in a variety of ways, has insisted on the intimate links between political, economic, and cognitive matters. It is just this combination of technical developments and their related social transformations, of course, that inaugurated the concept of an "Industrial Revolution." Among the technological innovations that in much of western Europe transformed production techniques and the social relations of manufacture were the spinning jenny, the flying shuttle, the water wheel, the power loom, the steam engine, and latterly, electricity. The revolutionary character of each of these historical-technological moments has been challenged by various scholars, concerned as they have been with the precise definition of Technik and with the fact that the machine and transport changes central to such industrial transformation after around 1750 had earlier proto-industrial roots. Nevertheless, "Industrial Revolution" has become an established term within the historical lexicon, notably in relation to devices designed to dominate nature-"working-machine technology" as Paulinyi calls it-and in related shifts in technical and productive capacity. More than has been the case for cognate upheavals-such as the "Commercial Revolution," the "Price Revolution," and the "Trading Revolution"-the Industrial Revolution (and, to some degree, perhaps, the "Agrarian" or "Agricultural Revolution"), has been considered as a geographical matter. In the case of Britain at least, the Industrial Revolution has been mapped as a set of processes-an "industrializing" rather than an industrial revolution in any fixed sense-with differing locational expression and underlying geographical causes. The technical bases to the Industrial Revolution have, of course, contemporary counterparts in the new time regimes associated with the shift from moral to political economies of labor-human adjustments to machine speed, imposition of "standard time," regulated hours of work, and so on. Such a revolution in industrial time is a social as well as a technical thing. Modern parallels exist, too, in the ways in which the "Information Revolution" has been realized as a shift from making and moving goods to making and moving information-as stocks and shares in exchanges, as data sets via the Internet, and as media commodities in a networked society. Significant as this work on the Information Revolution has been, the utility of information lies less in its production than in the use to which it is put. This realization advertises the significance of recent work on the geography of meaning. Historians of the book have contributed to this process in a variety of ways. They have, of course, studied book production as a matter of technological innovation in information. They have also complemented such work by studies of the movement of books and of other forms of print in the public sphere in a "communications circuit." Crucially, they have also attended to changes in the cultural and social practices of reading. In this last respect, as suggested above, some have argued for a "Reading Revolution," in late-eighteenth-century western Europe at least, characterized by new forms of print, an emphasis upon reading as "useful," and by a widening of the reading publics.

In the domain of intellectual endeavor, the idea that there has been a "Scientific Revolution"-with associated Newtonian, Copernican, and, later, Darwinian variants-has had a powerful grip on historical enquiry. Those conditions that have been drawn together at one time or another under the label "Scientific Revolution" have been construed as the consequence of a profound epistemological reorientation and the generation of new metaphysical categories. In seeking an explanation for such transformations, scholars have made use of the language of paradigm shift, or Gestalt switch, or sweeping metaphor replacement, all of which owe much to Thomas Kuhn's classic analysis, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). Others have been more inclined to look toward religious changes at both the continental and national scales in efforts to uncover the origins of modern science. In some cases, the Reformation has been taken as critical. In others, a Puritan mentalité has been isolated as the key factor. In yet others, a shift in scriptural hermeneutics has been held to presage a revolution in the reading of nature. The list of explanatory factors could be expanded ad libitum: the changing role of arts and crafts, the legacy of the voyages of reconnaissance, the development of a print culture, the emergence of capitalism, the lingering repercussions of hermeticism, the breakup of feudal Europe, dialogues with Islam, and many others. The interrogation and variable interpretation of different historical sources has even resulted in a challenge to the very existence of the Scientific Revolution in any simple canonical sense. Steven Shapin, for example, has signaled its dissolution in beginning his book The Scientific Revolution with the provocative assertion: "There was no such thing as the Scientific Revolution, and this is a book about it." Challenges of this sort have, in their turn, called forth either outright rebuttals or modulations of this claim by other commentators.

Given these associations with different domains, it is hardly surprising that establishing the necessary and sufficient conditions for revolutionary states of affairs has proven to be elusive. Students of political revolution have been beset with such definitional anxieties over how best to draw the boundary line between revolution and such close conceptual neighbors as "rebellion," Antonio Gramsci's "passive revolution," "regime change," and "social transition." Is revolution always marked by violence? Does revolution necessitate transfers of power? Is uncontrollability a cardinal feature? How coherent is the idea of a "long revolution"? Is success a necessary condition for particular circumstances to be labeled a revolution? Just what is it that changes during a revolution, and, closely related, what is the appropriate unit of analysis at which to conduct inquiries into revolutionary circumstances? Can we, indeed, theorize "revolution"? Given this irresolution attending the nature of revolution whether in technology, politics, or intellectual affairs, it is perhaps to be expected that theories purporting to explain the revolutionary condition have proliferated. Since a wide range of forces-social, economic, psychological, political, religious, intellectual-are ordinarily implicated in narratives of radical transformation, it is not surprising that different subject areas have offered their own distinctly disciplinary causal explanations.

(Continues...)




Excerpted from Geography and Revolution Copyright © 2005 by The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgments
1. On Geography and Revolution
David N. Livingstone and Charles W. J. Withers
Part I - Geography and Scientific Revolution: Space, Place, and Natural Knowledge
2. Space, Revolution, and Science
Peter Dear
3. National Styles in Science: A Possible Factor in the Scientific Revolution?
John Henry
4. Geography, Science, and the Scientific Revolution
Charles W. J. Withers
5. Revolution of the Space Invaders: Darwin and Wallace on the Geography of Life
James Moore
Part II. Geography and Technical Revolution: Time, Space, and the Instruments of Transmission
6. Printing the Map, Making a Difference: Mapping the Cape of Good Hope, 1488-1652
Jerry Brotton
7. Revolutions in the Times: Clocks and the Temporal Structures of Everyday Life
Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift
8. Photography, Visual Revolutions, and Victorian Geography
James R. Ryan
Part III - Geography and Political Revolution: Geography and State Governance
9. Geography's English Revolutions: Oxford Geography and the War of Ideas, 1600-1660
Robert J. Mayhew
10. Edme Mentelle's Geographies and the French Revolution
Michael Heffernan
11. "Risen into Empire": Moral Geographies of the American Republic
David N. Livingstone
12. Alexander von Humboldt and Revolution: A Geography of Reception of the Varnhagen von Ense Correspondence
Nicolaas Rupke
Afterword: Revolutions and Their Geographies
Peter Burke
Contributors
Bibliography
Index
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