In the light of a radical (operational) constructivist view of science this project takes scientific knowledge as a convention produced and maintained within cultural practice. Scientific knowledge tells nothing about an experiencer-independent, so called objective reality. But it tells much about the circumstances under which this knowledge is produced. Thus scientific knowledge reflects/indicates ideologies and attitudes of scientists, their community and society as a whole, hence it conveys social meaning.
Cartographic expertise of the 20th century has been analysed within history of science for the last few decades, especially in the face of territorial changes in Central Europe, the huge socio-political caesuras of the First and Second World War, and the legacy of these periods of war, terror and crime.
Although it soon became quite clear that mapping as a scientific practice does matter for understanding different forms of territorial and scientific thinking, the specific cartographic visualization of language and its spreading in the geographic space ― represented through thematic maps and atlases ― has not yet been considered in its deep historical, theoretical, semiotical, i. e. social dimension.
This project is focusing on Austrian dialect cartography from 1924 to 1956 against the following theoretical assumption: a dialect map represents a highly complex semiosis which incorporates several layers of knowledge and several layers (and different types) of signs (icons, symbols, indices). Henceforth spatial, historical, socio-political, linguistic knowledge ― and respective ideologies ― all cumulate in such an artifact as a “dialect-map”.
With a strong Digital Humanities approach this project aims at digitalising linguistic maps, georeferencing them, enrich them with metadata and putting those maps online.