Paul Langhans, Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas (German colonial atlas) : 30 Karten mit 300 Nebenkarten (30 Maps with 300 Insets) Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1893-1897

The Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas (German colonial atlas) appeared between 1892 and 1897 in multiple installments, published by Justus Perthes in Gotha. It included 30 main maps and 300 insets. The foreword describes the aim of the cartographer and edi-tor Paul Langhans (1867–1952): “To represent German protectorates, German settle-ments abroad, and the propagation of Germans and of their intellectual and material culture, on the entire globe—that is the purpose and plan of the German Colonial Atlas” (Langhans 1897, “Vorwort” [1892],1). Langhans’s atlas is not only the first German collec-tion of colonial maps. It is also the only completed series of maps for all “protectorates of the German Empire” (Demhardt 2009, 28). Key moments for its emergence include the founding of the German Empire, the transition from free trade to protective tariffs, the public debate about the question of colonies and the role of Germans in colonizing the world, the large movements of emigrants leaving Germany, and not least of all the search for new markets for German products. In short, the Kolonial-Atlas was a major part of cartography’s contribution to German colonial discourse at the end of the nine-teenth century. This work of the Perthes publishing house is evidence of how geographic knowledge was created with political and economic intentions on the basis of an impres-sive array of sources; it shows how it was possible to appropriate a colonial space by means of cartographic tools. The introduction, which was written in 1897, gives a good view of Langhans’s understanding of what makes a “colony” (as settlement activity car-ried out by “Germans” over centuries) and of the ethnic-nationalistic [völkisch] body of thought upon which the atlas project was based.


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