Cartographies of Catastrophes

Laura Demeter's picture
November 23, 2021 to November 25, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Digital Humanities, Geography, Historic Preservation, Urban Design and Planning

Conflicts and catastrophes impacted cities worldwide throughout history and recently at various scales. The impact of the destruction of cities is documented globally and yet not fully analysed comparatively and from a long-term perspective. The development of new technologies facilitates the documentation of such damage, as well as preparation for the transformation and recovery of the cities. Urban damage cartography plays a fundamental role in communicating and negotiating losses and future visions of affected cities. Maps aim to track and foresee urban changes, yet they cannot compete with a fast-changing reality. Maps that depict war or natural related changes to the city could become obsolete in a short period. These can be read as a brief snapshot in a continuous changing environment. Due to this quick historization, damage cartography is situated at the interface of current documentation practice and historical geography, providing information as much about conditions before and after human-made or natural disasters, as about active changes made to the built urban fabric after catastrophes.

Existing historical sources of urban damage cartography for various cities generated during and after wars and conflicts have been identified and researched, such as those affected during the Second World War in Europe (Austria, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom). Building on this knowledge, this conference aims to problematise cartographies of catastrophes from the 19th century until the present time in the global context, from wide interdisciplinary perspectives. By focusing on damage maps from past and recent conflicts and catastrophes, this conference interrogates whether maps just show past conditions, or do they foresee and predetermine future conditions?

The proposed conference invites scholars and experts from various disciplines such as: urban planning, heritage preservation, human geography, digital humanities, social cartography, architectural and art history, archaeological studies, literature studies and history to critically reflect upon (but not restricted to) the following topics:

  • Theoretical approaches to key concepts, such as: destruction, reconstruction, recovery, ruins, ‘mapping’ - ‘map making’, ‘Schadenskartierung’,’Wiederaufbau’, etc. from an interdisciplinary perspective,
  • Methodologies employed for the study, communicating, and developing of maps: visualization, digitalization, accessibility,
  • Mapping man-made disaster inflicted to the urban space (i.e. war and civil conflicts),
  • Mapping natural catastrophes’ impact on the urban space: earthquake, climate change, health emergencies,
  • Social-political and cultural context of mapping,
  • Actors (experts, institutions) involved in map-making.

We invite proposals for a 20-minute presentation in English to be sent in a Word document (.docx) containing:

a) Title and abstract of 300 words maximum (no references);

b) The name of the author with current affiliation, contact details (email and mobile) and a short biographical note (around 200 words).

Proposals should be sent no later than15 September 2021to the following email:

Notification of acceptance will be sent by 1 October 2021.

Limited funding opportunities for travel and accommodation may be provided for participants attending the conference in person in Bamberg. An online format via Zoom will be provided as well, for speakers who opt for this format due to Covid restrictions. Please specify your preference in this regard.

The language of the conference is English (presentations in German are also possible).

The hybrid conference is organized by the UrbanMetaMapping Research Consortium, (sub-project) at the Centre for Heritage Conservation Studies and Technologies (KDWT) in Bamberg, in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS). 

The conference will be hosted by the Centre for Heritage Conservation Studies and Technologies (KDWT) in Bamberg, Germany. In addition, the online format will be offered via Zoom.

We invite scholars interested in collaborating with the UrbanMetaMapping Research Consortium in joint research projects, publications, and other academic activities to join us at the conference in Bamberg and contribute to the development of the international Mapping Heritage Transformation Network (MaHeT).

Contact Info: 

Dr. Enss Carmen

Dr. Demeter Laura

Dr. Kisiel Piotr

Sedlmeyer Georg-Felix