International Conference of Historical Geographers 2015

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16 Naming places
Chair(s) Natalie Cox (The University of Warwick / Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), UK)
Timetable Monday 06 July 2015, Timeslot 2 (11:30 - 13:15)
Room RGS-IBG Council Room - DO NOT USE 2020
Session abstract This session brings together papers concerned with the mapping of place-names, including both historical studies of topynmic mapping and contemporary reconstructions of place-names in Europe and Palestine. It also addresses the politics of place-naming, notably in postcolonial contexts within India and China, exploring the relationship between place names and regional and national identities.
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details:
Mapping forgotten place names: a cartographic reconstruction of a medieval monastic estate in the Buzău Region, Romania
Cezar Buterez (University of Bucharest, Romania)
Theodor Cepraga (University of Bucharest, Romania)
Alexandra Brezoi (University of Bucharest, Romania)
The South-Eastern Carpathians gave shelter to one of the largest monastic centers of Eastern Orthodoxy in Romania, continuously operating with certainty between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. The first hermitages were concentrated around a vast complex of earlier rock-hewn vestiges. Focusing on the Buzău region, this paper attempts to examine the spatial dimensions of the first estates recorded in historical documents that came to be donated to the monasteries. These donations symbolically marked the passing from anchoritic to coenobitic organization, thus generating the first landownership conflicts that the monasteries had to face. The paper investigates the delimitation of one medieval estate, through a cartographic reconstruction of its boundaries using the toponymy of the original landmarks, historical documents and GIS. Finally, the paper explains the importance of the findings to the historical geography of the Buzău region.
Attributive structures of exonyms and endonyms and their position in Czech landscape
Michal Semian (Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic)
Jaroslav David (University of Ostrava, Czech Republic)
Exonyms – i.e. toponyms of the type Rakousko, Benátky [Austria, Venice] – were introduced to the Czech landscape (along with endonyms) in medieval times. In the 19th century a new, specific application of exonyms/endonyms began to appear, and it is this development that forms the focus of the present article. Such words began to feature in attributive structures of the type český, pražský [Czech or Bohemian, Prague’s] + exonym/endonym; many of these structures came into widespread use referring to areas whose boundaries were unclearly delineated or defined, or they served the purposes of marketing and advertising. In the 1920s and the 1930s the golden age of introducing such structured toponyms into Czech landscape came to its end and many of these names were forgotten in the following decades, while only few of them have found their way into general public consciousness or even among institutionalized place names. In the 1990s, the growing influence of a “new” European regionalism and the formation of new territorial entities was accompanied by a revival of some old regional identities – and, in turn, by a revival of their names. In this study we would like to examine, whether this was also the case of attributive structures with exonyms/endonyms. The analysis presented in this article is based on the SYN PUB component of the Czech National Corpus aiming to offer an insight into the reasons underlying the use of such structures in contemporary journalism and advertisement.
Scriptural Geography and Revolutionary Toponymy: Kiepert's Holy Land Maps after Robinson and Smith
Haim Goren (Tel-Hai College, Israel)
Bruno Schelhaas (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Germany)
The study of the Holy Land provides a unique opportunity to examine nineteenth-century research practices. Defined geographically, its ancient history influenced both its subsequent development and its modern study. Its 'rediscovery' in the nineteenth century involved fieldwork as well as intensive use of sources including the Scriptures, historical works and pilgrim's descriptions. The American theologian Edward Robinson and the ABCFM missionary Eli Smith travelled in the Holy Land in 1838 and 1852. Their pioneering research, methodological toponymy, and detailed reconstruction of Biblical Geography was accepted by contemporaries; it has up to now an outstanding position within the subject. The first voyage yielded a detailed three-volume work, published simultaneously in German and English. It includes various maps drawn by the young German cartographer Heinrich Kiepert, establishing a new narrative within the historic-geographical discourse on the Holy Land. Smith was the local language and people expert, Robinson executed the research method, combining geographical information with the historic. Kiepert visualized their work, using the most advanced cartographic skills. This example demonstrates a very effective co-operation of three specialists. At the same time they were part of an international and interdisciplinary network.
The spatial politics of street naming in Shanghai: 1845-1949
Wenchuan Huang (National Dong Hwa University,Taiwan)
Place names are founded on people’s identification and recognition of places. In the process of naming, people are both constructing identity of place and showing their specific cultural value. Place names change over time, reflecting the changing intentions of different rulers. They contain both symbolic meanings and spatial orderings which provide legitimacy to political elites. Shanghai, situated on the banks of the Yangtze River Delta in East China, has evolved over time from a coastal fishing village into the largest metropolis in China. In the century after 1840, Shanghai was the principal port for Western colonialists and later came under the Japanese occupation. After liberation, it was transformed and governed by Nationalist Party and Communist Party. Shanghai has experienced a succession of political regimes: the colonial period (1845-1943), the withdrawal of settlements in 1943, the Sino-Japanese war and the coming to power of the Communist party in 1949. In each phase the interersts of different ruling elites have been reflected in the renaming of the city’s streets. This paper will use the concepts of spatial politics and critical theories to examine the procedures of the naming and renaming of streets in Shanghai city and to demonstrate street naming as the illustration of state power over its spatial politics.
Recovering the lost self: identity assertion through the politics of naming places in Colonial and postcolonial India
Gloria Kuzur (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India)
Swagata Basu (SSV College Hapur, India)
India’s postcolonial condition involved the interrogation of colonial hegemonic constructions from a variety of positions by a number of actors. The naming and re-naming of places necessarily involves assertion and contestation. The colonizers used this technique to ‘know’, ‘construct’ and to ‘rule’ places, assigning identities which facilitated the appropriation of spaces. India’s perception of modernity was completely different from that of the colonisers and its articulations appeared in various forms. The three most prominent positions are that of right-wing ideologues asserting civilizational identity; the Nehruvian centrist model along with the Left discourses of anti-colonial, secular democratic space; and finally, post-1977, a plethora of newer regional bourgeois cultural challenges to Pan -Indian dominance also highlighting the role of unsung ‘heroes’. These processes have been reflected in the process of naming spaces and places. This paper attempts to map the three phases of naming and re-naming of 100 prominent Indian urban centres with special reference to the capital city, Delhi. The discussion highlights the process of contestation in the marking out of places of self and other.