Read the laudation by Liqiu Meng, Vice-President of ICA, below:
Ulrich Freitag, born 90 years ago, is a trained engineering-cartographer and an insightful cartographic theorist. He has served for countless cartographers and cartography-related in-stitutions as lecturer, supervisor, mentor, advisor, and collaborator. Most recently, he joined in an interview about the development of world cartography with a young master’s student born in the 1990s.
Ulrich completed his studies in geography at the Humboldt University in Berlin in 1950s. He then became research assistant of geography at TU Dresden. He received his doctorate in 1960s with a thesis on traffic maps at the Geographical Institute of the Justus Liebig Univer-sity in Giessen. He became Full Professor at the Department of Cartography, Free University Berlin in 1970ts where he served until his retirement in 1999.
In his original work ‘Die Zeitalter und Epochen der Kartengeschichte’ (1972) Ulrich ana-lyzed the progress of cartography through its history, addressed the nature of cartography as a communication “science”, but equivalent to language and text. In another original work ‘Die Entwicklung der Theorie der Kartographie’ (1980), he tried to integrate the prac-tice of cartography with theories of science, proving that cartography has developed as a valid scientific discipline. Ulrich is an excellent scholar with a holistic and in-depth view of cartographic concepts, cartosemiotics, Atlas cartography and their interdisciplinary imple-mentations. No wonder that his work has been among the most cited in cartographic text-books and dissertations for decades.
Ulrich’s cartographic career was marked by numerous international research stays in far-flung countries in Australia, Asia and Africa. Two of the appointments are particularly note-worthy, one in Nigeria, where he served as map designer and lecturer at the University of Ife for two years in the 1960s. The other as visiting professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and as an expert at the Royal Thai Survey Department for four years in the 1970s.
As vice-president of the German Cartographic Society (1979-1987), Ulrich led German dele-gations to four ICA conferences in Japan, Australia, Mexico and UK. As president of the German Cartographic Society (1987-1995), he led the annual German Cartographer’s Days before and after the reunification of West Germany and East Germany. For one of those events, he enlisted his former student – Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand – to give a speech in German. Ulrich also designed the Mercator Medal for the German Cartographic Society and internationalized it by awarding it to the French cartographer Jacques Bertin. Ulrich’s ingen-ious ability to combine science and society has significantly shaped the cartographic com-munity in Germany. The successful organization of the 16th ICA Conference in Cologne in 1993 is another example of his influential leadership.
During the Cold War, it was politically not easy for Ulrich as a West Berliner to take a lead-ing role in the ICA on behalf of German cartography. However, this did not prevent him from being an inclusive scientist, heading the ICA Commission on Census-Cartography and two ICA working groups on cartographic theories and methodology.
It is a great honor for the ICA to award Ulrich Freitag with his well-deserved Carl Manner-felt Medal in Gold.