This week I am at an ERSA organised workshop on the use of geographical information systems (GIS) in the analysis of economic history. For the occasion Johan Fourie brought out Alex Moradi of Sussex University and after the first afternoon there are already some interesting points to write about.
Alex explained that historical GIS is about structuring, mapping and analysing geographies of the past. It is a way of interrelating information from different sources - some of it spatial. GIS software can be used as a database management tool (layers are key), for analysing data (clustering, spatial autocorrelation) and visualising finished products (make your own maps). We will be learning more about that tomorrow.
For someone who is interested in geographical economics I found Alex's borders example interesting. Geography, like altitude or latitude variables are not really used as an explanatory variables, but rather as a way to help identify differences or discontinuities. I look forward to his inputs on our research ideas.