Stanford University
CESTA
Current and Past Projects
This research chronicles the roots of suburban expansion in San Antonio, Texas, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. 
We propose to compile a “Global Atlas of Oil” that will highlight the historic development of the petroleum industry and its consequences, addressing large-scale historical questions. 

In collaboration with the Bill Lane Center for the American West, the Cantor Arts Center, and the Stanford Geospatial Center, this project seeks to illustrate the importance of Carleton Watkins’ photography and situate his work in a broader historical and geographic context.
The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project seeks to give a voice to the Chinese migrants whose labor on the Transcontinental Railroad helped to shape the physical and social landscape of the American West. 
This project, funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, seeks to test ways in which humanities researchers might use different types of crowdsourcing and community sourcing to further research, and ask questions that would be difficult or impossible to do in more traditional modes of inquiry. 
The project visualizes the history and geography of the fiscal relationship between western counties and states and the federal lands within their jurisdictions.
This research is intended to understand the transformation of ecosystems in Brazil by linking and spatially integrating data on ecosystem distribution and formation, with demographic, land use, and settlement history data on a regional scale.

Not unlike its better known counterpart, the “one-child policy,” funeral reform (binzang gaige 殡葬改革) is a controversial governmental initiative crafted in response to China’s population crisis.
In collaboration with Jasper Ridge Biological PreserveStanford Heritage Services, the Searsville Steering Committee and the broader community, this project reflects an ongoing academic engagement with the study of Stanford's ecological and historical context. The project's focus is the San Francisquito Creek watershed, home to the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Stanford, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto.
This project traces the history of urban planning in San Francisco, placing special emphasis on unrealized schemes.  Rather than using visual material simply to illustrate outcomes, Imagined San Francisco uses historical plans, maps, architectural renderings, and photographs to show what might have been. 
 This project investigates scholarly enterprises that sought contributions from the public in the nineteenth century.


"The Broken Paths of Freedom: Free Africans in Nineteenth-Century Brazilian Slave Society" is a historical study of the geographies of enslavement, emancipation, and liberty traversed by Free Africans [Portuguese: africanos livres; also known as emancipados and "Liberated Africans"], a fascinating subgroup of the roughly three-quarter million enslaved Africans illicitly trafficked  to the Brazilian empire between 1821 and 1856.
This project studies the ‘Grand Tour of Italy’, which involved thousands of diverse northern Europeans, elites and otherwise, for whom the Italian journey was a transformative cultural and social experience, and which affected and shaped the history of Britain and Italy alike. We are working with the more than five thousand entries in John Ingamells’ Dictionary of British and Irish Travelers to Italy to create a dynamic searchable database, along with digital visualizations, of these travelers’ journeys and lives.


This project seeks to chart a geography of The Arctic Regions, an enormous 1873 book that represents the first photographic survey of Greenland’s western coast. 
Aboriginal Fire and Desert Biodiversity is an interdisciplinary NSF-sponsored project examining how indigenous Martu from Western Australia use fire in the process of hunting and how this daily practice leads to greater biodiversity.
The Mapping Endangered Languages Project focuses on endangered languages around the world and efforts to preserve and revitalize them.
Over the past 3 decades, Gordon has studied the behavior, demography and ecology of a population of about 300 harvester ant colonies in Arizona, using both field and laboratory experiments.
What roles did animals play in nineteenth-century cities? What urban spaces did they inhabit and how did those spaces change over time? How, and in what ways, did cities become remade as human space?
The project brings together faculty and students from across a range of disciplines and research centers to focus on the history and significance of road transportation networks in patterning social and political change in the United States and Brazil.
Based on some of the research on Rio previously done for CESTA’s “Terrain of History” and “The Broken Paths of Freedom” projects, this new project will rethink the ways in which digital scholarship is produced and published.
This project will examine the late-twentieth-century history of illegal border crossing, Mexican migrant communities, and bi-national efforts to regulate the border.
Between the Tides aims to reveal, visualize, and analyze the changing relationship between society and nature on San Francisco Bay's dynamic tidal margin.
Kindred Britain takes one of the oldest forms of social network analysis, family relationships, and reimagines it for the contemporary medium of the Web.
In Britain, America and parts of Europe, the late nineteenth and early twentieth century witnessed the advent of the phenomenon we know today as "spiritual but not religious".
This project investigates the spatial and environmental history of the establishment of the Iguazú National Park in Argentina and the Iguaçu National Park in Brazil.
Chile's Aquaculture Industry, 1950-2000 researches the connections among environmental and social change in the salmon-farming industry in southern Chile.
In this study of human rights education in Sweden and the US, funded by the Wallenberg foundation, digital tools are used to process and elucidate how history can be used, understood and written in different countries and school cultures.

The birth of the Americas was a time of discontent. This is expressed in the disputes that shook the colonies. This project aims at creating a model of spatial and semantic representation of rebellions and showing that they are a potentially promising object for Spatial History.
"The Archaeology of Place in Ancient Cyprus" is concerned with mapping sites whose contemporary names cannot be known, and whose spatial configuration is often uncertain; or at least only partially evident.
Chinese Canadian Stories: Uncommon Histories from a Common Past is a collaborative project developing a one-stop web portal dedicated to collecting, digital archiving, accessing, and distributing information about Chinese Canadian history.
Enchanting the Desert explicates the space produced by an early-twentieth-century photographic slideshow of the Grand Canyon made by journeyman photographer Henry Peabody.  In this narrated series of 43 images viewers were virtually transported to locations around the Canyon through landscape views and oral descriptions, yet the geography of the Canyon that is portrayed remains obscured.
Using historical records of European banks, this project traces the geographical evolution of the region’s sprawling network of stock exchanges during the peak period of industrialization, 1860-1914.
These trains made constant circuits through the country in the early twentieth century, picking up and then ejecting so-called “undesirable aliens” – non-citizens convicted of crimes, deemed mad or politically radical, the very poor, or else those considered racially ineligible to citizenship, many Chinese among them.
The Cigarette Citadels project explores visual and spatial questions around the six trillion cigarettes that are manufactured, packaged, and distributed by the tobacco industry every year.
Critical Habitat is investigating the relationship between people and the environment in the American West at different spatial and temporal scales.
Geography of the Post maps the late nineteenth-century U.S. postal network on its western periphery: where it spread, how it operated, and its role in shaping the space and place of the region.
Holocaust Geographies is a collaboration on an NSF-sponsored grant led by Anne Knowles (Middlebury College) and Alberto Giordano (Texas State University). Across five studies, the project examines spaces and places of the Holocaust.
Using GIS technology and accepted scholarly methods, this multi-disciplinary project intends to create a layered history of Rome by updating Forma Urbis Romae, the cartographic masterpiece of ancient Roman topography published in 1901 by archeologist Rodolfo Lanciani.
This project traces linkages among the forerunners of child psychiatry from Vienna in the 1930s through the 1940s, outlining connections among the diaspora and those who stayed during the Third Reich. 
The spatially-oriented analysis of the water distribution in 19th combines data on the position of aqueducts, fountains, private taps, the conduit system and the amount of water provided by each of these with the data of the “Terrain of History" project.

This project aims to map and clarify how history is written in high school history teaching designed to promote critical thinking and empathy.
The Memorial Mapping project "maps" 9/11 memorials built in countries other than the United States, providing a geographic database of their locations, styles, subjects, dedication histories, and audiences.
Innovative digital research technologies allow us to look at the expansion of the American nation during the critical years before the Civil War in new ways. During this time in history, law served in the process of empire. 
Mapping Vice in Early Twentieth-Century Philadelphia uses maps to explore the distribution of prostitution "commutes" and arrests in Philadelphia in the nineteen teens.
The Great Migration was a watershed in African American life: over the course of six decades (1910-1970), six million black southerners left the South in search of more meaningful experiences of freedom. I hope to offer a different angle of vision on the migration by bringing to light the places where migrants slept, ate, got haircuts, and danced along the way. 
The standard geopolitical model based on sovereign states provides an inadequate framework for mapping basic economic and social data. This projects re-maps the world around compact units of similar economic circumstances, all of which contain approximately 100,000,000 inhabitants.
Project Steel Beta is a web-based visualization tool for spatio-temporal data that allows users to visually display and explore GIS data from geodatabases within a browser.
Rebooting History is an exploration with a point of origin in how regional utilization of East Palo Alto's space helped set the stage for a dynamic of inequality between the community and what would become Silicon Valley.
In this era of change, understanding how past conservation efforts have either succeeded or failed is of utmost importance–only after such an assessment can we move forward and propose strategic conservation plans for the future.
This project explores the local social and political effects of higher education in West Africa, particularly history education
"Richard Pryor's Peoria" aims to open up the work of a biography for the digital age. Traditionally, biographers have done their research–rooted around in archives, conducted their interviews, and so on–and then streamlined that research to write the story of the person in question.
Shaping the West explores the construction of space by transcontinental railroads in North America during the late nineteenth century.
Terrain of History, an international collaborative project, seeks to reconstruct and analyze the social, cultural, and economic spaces of nineteenth-century Rio de Janeiro.
Tooling Up for Digital Histories is a collaboration between the Spatial History Project and the Computer Graphics Lab at Stanford University and others to compile and create new tools for digital and spatial research in the humanities.
Vulnerability-in-Production reconstructs how vulnerability to the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire developed over time, space and in the context of dynamic social-ecological change.
Spatial History