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A tribute to the IGU activities of Professor Henry Bakis

Aharon Kellerman et Mark I. Wilson
p. 209-210

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1The study of the geography of telecommunications began in the 1970s, accompanying the digitization processes of telephone services, and the organizational changes in their provision. The introduction of the Internet in the mid-1990s, followed by the emergence of smartphones in the late 1990s, has widened the scope of the geographical study of telecommunications, moving its focus first to information society, followed later on to an even wider focus on the global information society, with its current interest focusing also on the geography of technology, knowledge and innovation.

2It was at the time, in the early 1980s, for French geographers, led by Christian Verlaque, to have this new geographical specialty internationally recognized and organized vis-à-vis the IGU (International Geographical Union). Henry Bakis acted by then as the close partner of Verlaque, thus becoming the first Executive Secretary of the first IGU Study Group centered on the geography of communications and telecommunications, 1984-1988. The establishment of this pioneering study group under the auspices of the IGU was coupled by Bakis’ continued publication of the Communication Geography Newsletter (1985-2000). Even more significantly was the beginning of publication of the journal Netcom in 1987. Netcom served as the scientific outlet for the study group, and has since then been the only journal devoted to the geography of communications and information. Netcom was established by Bakis in 1987, and was continuously edited by him since then until now. Since a dozen years, he associates Philippe Vidal - who was finishing the writing of his doctoral thesis - on the editorial board. He promoted him to Associate Editor.

3In addition to developing a global network of scholars around communications geography, and promoting an institutional framework within the IGU, Henry Bakis is also an acknowledged scholar of economic and communications geography. Over the past 40 years, Bakis wrote frequently in French and English on a number of central themes for the field. The focus of his scholarship ranged from understanding the networks of telecommunications to the role of information and to the relationship between territory, information and networks. His ideas evolved from the nature of physical networks to the social context and impact of communications systems and how they affect both people and place. Most recently, he addressed geopolitics, identity and the meaning of place in contemporary society. Bakis contributed to the language of cybergeography by providing spatial context for the emerging communications technologies.

4The meetings of the IGU Study Group, some of which were organized by Bakis, and its publication program, brought about an upgrading of the status of telecommunications geography by the IGU, so that in 1988 it turned into a full commission of the IGU, devoted to the study of communications and telecommunications, with Bakis serving as its Executive Secretary until 1992. In the two following terms of the commission, 1992-1996 and 1996-2000, Bakis chaired the commission, and had it meet at least once a year in changing locations worldwide.

  • 1 Ronald F. Abler (President of the IGU), Letter of appreciation to Pr. Henry Bakis, 10 June 2010; Mi (...)

5In 2000, the commission changed its name into the commission on the geography of the information society, and Aharon Kellerman (Israel) chaired it for two terms, 2000-2008. Bakis continued his leading role in the commission by serving as its Vice-Chair, in charge of the continued editing of Netcom. Bakis continued with this status and capacity also when the commission became the commission on the geography of the global information society, chaired by Mark Wilson (US) for two terms, 2008-2016, and its current focus on information, innovation and technology, chaired by Tommi Inkinen (Finland) since 2016-. The IGU leaders recognized Henry’s work and contribution after thirty years of service to geography1.

6It is significant that the initial focus on communications and space was a narrow field when initiated in the 1970s, but today issues of information and technology permeate many fields in geography and are a widespread topic of interest.

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1 Ronald F. Abler (President of the IGU), Letter of appreciation to Pr. Henry Bakis, 10 June 2010; Michael E. Meadows (Secretary-General and Treasurer of the IGU), Letter of appreciation to Pr. Henry Bakis, 10 January, 2014.

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Aharon Kellerman et Mark I. Wilson, « A tribute to the IGU activities of Professor Henry Bakis »Netcom, 32-1/2 | 2018, 209-210.

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Aharon Kellerman et Mark I. Wilson, « A tribute to the IGU activities of Professor Henry Bakis »Netcom [En ligne], 32-1/2 | 2018, mis en ligne le 18 décembre 2018, consulté le 11 mai 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Aharon Kellerman

University of Haifa, Israel

Mark I. Wilson

Michigan State University, US

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Netcom – Réseaux, communication et territoires est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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