2nd Ruderman Conference on Gender, Sexuality and Cartography, Oct 10-12, 2019

September 3, 2019
G. Salim Mohammed
Main Image, Map by Frances Bowen, 1810, Ruderman Conference, Gender, Sexuality, Cartography

From Frances Bowen, 1812

On October 10-12, the Rumsey Map Center will be hosting the second biennial Ruderman Conference on Cartography. While the first conference, in 2017, was an open event focused on emerging research in the history of cartography, this year has a specific, prescient theme: gender and sexuality.  

What do gender and sexuality have to do with maps? Quite a lot, as it turns out. The production and use of maps is itself a gendered act, with borders, place names, and cartouches communicating ideas about masculinity and femininity. The appearance of maps in art and material culture continues this gendered discourse. Maps can also serve as a way for historical actors to express themselves and, possibly, to undermine gendered expectations.  

Historically, mapping and charting have been activities dominated by men, a way to communicate dominance and competence. Women were often the audience for cartographic objects, however, and many women managed to find ways to participate in the map world throughout history. Widows took over their late husband’s shops, women worked as map colorists, and young girls cross-stitched maps as school assignments.  

The keynote speaker, Professor Susan Schulten (University of Denver), will discuss one of these women, Emma Willard, a women’s rights activist and education reformer whose authored several atlases and works on geography.  

Scholars and activists can also create new maps that challenge and expand our understanding of past and current configurations of gender and sexuality. Digital technologies offer communities organized around a sexual orientation or gender identity the chance to plot their own geographies and tell their own stories. Artists also use maps to highlight the variety and beauty of gender and sexuality expression.

Sub themes include:

Maps, gender and European Culture

Women in the US history of cartography

The gendered cartography of empire

Queer cartographies, art and activism

Alternatives cartographies in contemporary art

 All of these avenues of analysis will be discussed at the interdisciplinary conference, which kicks off October 10 with the keynote and reception. October 11 will feature panels that cover topics of geographic and chronological breadth. October 12 is a day focused on art and its intersection between gender, sexuality and cartography.

A complete list of speakers is here and the detailed schedule is here.

 There is an all-conference fee ($100), reduced fee for students ($25) and a Saturday-only registration fee ($40). All registered attendees (except for the Saturday only registration, which limits attendance to Saturday events only) will have access to the opening reception and keynote, all the speaker panels, the conference exhibition, and coffee/tea throughout the three-day event. Activities will take place at the David Rumsey Map Center at Stanford University’s Cecil H. Green Library.

 Ready to register? go here.

For more on the conference and to register, please go here.


Blog by Dr. Katherine Parker, Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.