Field Studies
   ways of knowing the field
   global knowledge, local consequences
   4S session
   field studies
   who is who
   danske videnskabelige ekspeditioner

ways of knowing the field

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International Conference on the History of Fieldwork, Cartography and Scientific Exploration

Carlsberg Academy, Copenhagen, 13-15 August 2008

Images from the conference


Since the 19th century, standards of credibility, objectivity and accountability have been defined according to ideals manifested in the carefully composed framework of the scientific laboratory. Fieldwork and cartography, on the other hand, are by definition conducted in intimate, unpredictable and unorganized interaction with particular places and with local actors that influence, shape and to some degree may even create end results.

While this may have earned knowledge produced in the field a reputation for being further removed from the scientific ideal set up by the laboratory standards, fieldwork remains a crucial tool for making the world knowledgeable. Traditionally, fieldwork, field studies and field sciences have served as collective designations for a host of heterogeneous of practices related to the collection and production of data, objects, maps and meaning. Measuring, counting, mapping, excavating, interviewing and experimenting – such activities have all been conducted ‘in the field’ in order to provide information and material thus transformed into objects for technological or scientific processing elsewhere.

Historically, the botanical, zoological, geological, geographic and political sciences along with cartography were among the first areas of inquiry to go into the field in search of knowledge and discovery. A closer analysis of the cultural and historical variations of the roles of fieldwork in these as well as in other domains of knowledge will enhance our understanding of field practices, and their role in the production of meaning and knowledge about the world.


The conference is organized by The Danish Network for the History and Sociology of Scientific Fieldwork and Expeditions, and The Danish Research School in Philosophy, History of Ideas and History of Science .


All abstracts

Fieldwork in other fields

Explorer-engineers in Africa 1880-1920

Native informants and cartography

Transforming the Field

Field Stations in the Temperate and Arctic Seas

On the role of fieldwork in the education of geographers

The Swedish Taxonomy Initiative

Ethological/ Ecological Ways of Knowing the Field

Exploring the Landscape, Perceiving a Continent

The Last Outpost of Civilization

On knowing Archaeology

Science without Empire

Field Epidemiology in England

Anthropological fieldwork before Malinowski

Lithuanians on Maps

Surveying the field of state territory

The fieldworker’s regress and the politics of place

Entangled Experiences, Disentangling Disciplines

How to philosophize with the hammer

An inquiry on the subterranei miraculi

Field Life

From expeditions to fieldwork

Colonial Science on the North Atlantic Fringe

Battlefields and scientific fields

Tourist behind enemy lines

A Bright Red Coat

Colonialism and the contested nature of surveying and mapping

Photogrammetry versus Fieldwork

Maps, armchairs, dogsleds, ships and airplanes

The Uncertain Place of the Field in Map History

Images from the conference