Inventing the Grand Banks: Humanities GIS, and Cartesian Perceptions of North-West Atlantic Fisheries ca 1504-ca 1831

Authors: Charles Travis*, University of Texas - Arlington, Poul Holm, Trinity College, The University of Dublin, Francis Ludlow, Trinity College Dublin, Kevin Lougheed, King's College London
Topics: Historical Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Oceanography
Keywords: North Atlantic, Humanities GIS, Historical Geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Truman, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

It has been noted that Atlantic surveys are typically represented by a “a territorialized map of the continents that border the ocean rather than a chart of the ocean itself. This is rarely maritime history, or an historical geography of the sea” (Ogborn, 2005) In contrast, this NorFish Project team paper presents a series of humanities geographical information science (HumGIS) visualizations and historical geography analyses of north-west Atlantic sea-charts produced between 1504 and 1787. Such charts contributed to the cross-cultural and trans-national cartographical ‘invention’ of the Grand Banks during the era of the ‘Fish Revolution’, 1400-1700 (Holm, et. al 2019). The paper discusses a cartographical prosopography of over 122 Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, Venetian, English and American charts produced during this period. From this study, 83 fishing bank patterns (collated by date of publication) were digitally extracted and geo-rectified. HumGIS ‘distant’ readings statistically illustrate and analyze correlations between fishery size representation and English (1675-1833) and French (1500-1950) Newfoundland port cod catch data. These findings were then juxtaposed with ‘close,’ and ‘deformed’ HumGIS readings, to illustrate the three-stage morphology in Grand Banks cartographic perception during the longue durée of North-Atlantic environmental history.

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