GaWC's METAGEOGRAPHICAL MISSION
Metageography is about the basic spatial concepts and ideas which we use to think about the world. These are the often taken-for-granted premises we hold in order to make geographical sense of our lives. For instance, world material inequality has been commonly portrayed in terms of 'North-South' differences even though we are aware of the 'error' in placing Australia in the North category. Metageographical concepts are both valuable, indeed necessary, but also very dangerous: to the degree we use them unthinkingly, they act as blinkers on our spatial understandings. The first mission of GaWC is to make us think seriously about how we conceptualise the geography of our contemporary world.
Our primary images of the world come in two basic cartographic representations. The human image is one of countries: the most familiar map is that of state boundaries with each country coloured to show its areal extent. The physical image is one of continents and oceans: the most familiar map shows shadings of green and brown indicating coastal plains, valleys and mountains across the continents. These two images have been and continue to be important ways to understand the world but their metageographical dominance belies their relative importance. They both portray patterns rather than processes, space as a mosaic not as a network. In a world of satellite communications, both state boundaries and altitude contours are having less and less influence on our lives. Our mission is to promote a different metageographical image of the world, a space of flows held together by a network of cities.
There are a myriad of networks which make up our contemporary world, the Internet, for example, to which you are currently linked to, is an important example. We have chosen to focus upon the network of world cities because it is the most obvious concrete manifestation of a contemporary space of flows which can challenge traditional metageographies. It is sometimes said that the Great Wall of China is the only human-made artifact visible from outer space. WRONG, as the Earth turns away from the Sun what you see are the lights of human activity, the global pattern of cities. This metageographical image of cities with no sight of physical or political boundaries we call "The world according to GaWC". Our mission is to measure, analyse, interpret and understand the world according to GaWC.
This web-site describes the activities of the GaWC Research Network. Research is our first tool for pursuing our metageographical mission. But, research alone will not achieve our goals, the pedagogic and proselytising aspects require both teaching goals and co-operation with professionals and city managers.