Review ID: CBB395084130

Review of "Mapping the Germans: Statistical Science, Cartography, and the Visualization of the German Nation, 1848-1914" (2017)


Statistics, much neglected by historians since the late 1970s, is now undergoing a revival as an area of digital humanities. Since digital databases are often assembled by non-historians, it is all the more important to remember that while numbers have great value for historical study, they offer no magical release from the need to interpret. Numbers not only describe but also stimulate human actions. The resources and insights for a reflexive history of data and statistics have been greatly enhanced over the last few decades by historical studies that focus directly on numbers and their uses, a topic that goes far beyond history of mathematical science to address the roles of data and statistics in, for example, government, business, education, technology, labor, law, and health. Academic historians have begun giving more attention to this area of research, which is highly relevant to many topics that now engross us, including gender, race and ethnicity, inequality, (post-)colonialism, and the environment.

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