Desiree Krikken

My plot, your plat, our inhabited landscape.
Early modern land surveyors and the record of European physical space

My dissertation project is located at the interface between landscape history, the history of science, and the social history of rural space. I examine changing cognitive perceptions of land, land use and rural dwellers in the northern Dutch-German border region (1500–1700). I am particularly interested in the activities of early modern land surveyors in this region. I aim to clarify and analyse the mechanisms by which a new spatial ideology was established.

My research subjects are surveying texts in which the new spatial ideology comes to light. These do-it-yourself styled manuals served both as a platform to market the professional surveyor, and to exchange information between practitioners and the lay-world. The texts will also be supported by archival material on numerous conflicts between landowners and farmers over the agrarian reorganization within the region.

With this project, I will contribute to debates about the early modern understanding of landscape as an inhabited, edited, but also controversial space. The holdings of the Herzog August Bibliothek with manuals published between 1500-1700, by German and other European authors give me the opportunity to examine the self-representation of land surveyors and the discourses and imaginations of the country that they described, in an international comparative perspective.