My book project is about the global histories of the “quantitative revolution” in geography. The quantitative revolution has been an epochal textbook chapter in geography’s canonical history, when the discipline transformed into a rigorous social science backed by predictive mathematical methods in the early Cold War. An iconic scientific concept of this quantitative movement, most notably related to Walter Christaller (1933) and August Lösch (1939), was central place theory (CPT). With the globalization of the quantitative revolution after its emergence from the Second World War in the United States, location theories such as CPT became widespread in urban and regional planning across the world. How did quantitative spatial analysis and planning develop in different parts of the world? In what different geographical contexts were location theories like CPT read, reinterpreted, applied, and mobilized? How were these often very different contexts connected? This book offers to fill this significant gap in geography’s twentieth century global history by deconstructing the mainstream Anglo-American narrative and tracing the quantitative revolution through the circulation and local applications of CPT in the “Second” and “Third” worlds and into the pre-Cold War era.
Why is the decolonization of the history of modern science and technology important? So that we can understand why Francis Bacon’s iconic title page image of a European caravella navigating through the pillars of Hercules in his book Instauratio Magna (Great Instauration, 1620) or Novum Organum Scientiarum (“new instrument of science”), which indicated the new program for modern empirical (colonial) scientific development, was actually taken from Andrés García de Céspedes’s book, Regimiento de navegación (Madrid, 1606). This shows the Northwestern European (Dutch, British, German), Protestant hegemonic shift, which stigmatized the downfall of “luxurious”, “inefficient”, “rapacious”, “unindustrialized”, “state-led capitalist” Spain, the Iberian or Southwestern European imperial-colonial project, against the “industrial revolution” and “scientific revolution” of the Northerners, the latter of which the image became a symbol. The deconstruction of this narrative is important in revealing the concealed global histories of colonial scientific and technological development, which was partly a precondition for the development in the new hegemonic centre in Europe. The South American decolonialist approach might be an important influence in decolonizing Eastern European knowledge production, since the Northwestern-Atlantic-Protestant narrative of scientific development, largely present in social scientists’ work such as Max Weber or Karl Marx, was dominantly diffused in Eastern Europe as our Eurocentric understanding of global scientific and economic development. I was educated according to this narrative already in primary school.