Barry Lawrence Ruderman Conference on Cartography 2019: Gender, Sexuality, Cartography

October 10-12, 2019 at the David Rumsey Map Center


Susan Schulten

Map Drawing and Female Education in the Early Republic

From the 1790s to the 1830s, young Americans across the country spent long hours stitching, drawing, and painting maps as part of their schooling. While both young men and women undertook these projects, mapping was especially popular for the latter--a pathway to literacy that exposed them to appropriate skills of science, art, geography, and penmanship. This practice also indelibly shaped the experience of one of the most influential female educators of the nineteenth century, Emma Willard.

Hundreds of these maps have been preserved in private and archival collections. Considered together, they enable us to explore the lived experience of young women in the early decades of nationhood. Moreover, with proper context the form and content of these maps reveal not just the ideals but the practices that governed the first generation of young women to be educated outside the home. Like Willard, many who were taught to draw maps brought these practices into their work as teachers, leaving an intensely visual and graphic tradition of education that was born in the Connecticut River Valley but radiated outward to the distant reaches of the frontier.


Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Searching For the Next Intifada: Imagining Sites of Queer Muslim Liberation

My work maps histories of revolution, anti-imperialism and guerrilla warfare through public archives and resource material from Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Palestine and Algeria. This has led me to develop the project, Tomorrow We Inherit the Earth, where I re-interpret these narratives into a new mythos and imagined archive of a fictitious queer uprising with roots in Asia and Africa.

I will be discussing the textile installation, گوریلا جنگ کے ھتھیار , Weapons From a Guerrilla War and the two multimedia performances Alif is for Resurrection and Tomorrow We Inherit the Earth: The Queer Intifada. In talking about both visual and performative elements of my work, I will speak to influences that guide my practice including the evolution of the politicization of Islam  across different geographies, Shiite Muslim traditions of martyr and saint veneration, the involvement of women in Lebanon’s civil war, and Sarah Juliet Lauro and Karen Embry’s Zombie Manifesto. I will also speak to the importance of creative collaboration as a form of political solidarity across fixed geographies and the relationship between Islam and queer globalizations.


Ryan Conrad

Cruising the Cartography: Mapping, Migration, and Public Sexual Cultures

Utilizing a constellation of cartographic and audio/visual mapping exercises to envision the changing landscape of public sexual cultures in Portland, Maine from the 1970s through the 2000s led to the development of a multi-sensorial, immersive research laboratory entitled Cruising the Cartography at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art in 2010. Although this project was locally specific, it raised a number of practical questions with broader implications about city planning, gentrification, policing, zoning, park planning, and soil erosion. Furthermore, it raised theoretical questions about the queer imagination, the erotic in public spaces, mapping and navigation practices within these spaces, and how such practices evolve alongside changing technologies. This paper will reflect in detail upon the questions raised by this work and ponder the new mapping strategies employed in the decade since the project first began.


Christina E. Dando

“Science of Princes” vs. “Women’s Work”: Gender and Maps/Mapping in the Progressive Era

At the turn of the twentieth century, the residents of Hull House gathered data on living conditions, epidemics, and ethnic enclaves of Chicago and mapped it as part of their efforts to improve their community. A Young Women’s Christian Association brochure from 1919 provided how-to directions for making exhibit maps about women’s labor issues. American women suffragists provided directions and encouraged others to make display maps of the state-by-state passage of the women’s suffrage amendment as part of their campaign for the vote, as well as used maps to plan their state campaign strategies (achieved in 1920).  

The Progressive Era (approximately 1890-1920) was a time when many Americans worked to improve their world, at times gathering data, analyzing it, and mapping it. Multiple practices of geography and mapping were occurring during this period. There were hegemonic practices of geography and cartography in academia, business, and government, led largely by white men (our “science of princes”), as well as a proliferation of maps in a wide range of media. But there were also practices of geography and cartography by American women as part of what some termed “women’s work.” This paper considers the construction of cartography and map making/use as masculine and/or feminine. Where was this gendering occurring? What were Americans being told about who was a cartographer? What were they being told about who uses maps? What are the implications of gendering these practices?  


Matthew H. Edney

Maps, Bodies, and Desire: The Gendered Construction of Territory

Polemicists have argued, in line with what Martin Brückner (2008) called the “‘maps are bad’ syndrome,” that cartography is innately masculinist (esp. Rose, Feminism & Geography [1993]). Yet cartography is a rhetorical formation, a corpus of idealizations that emerged only after 1800 and that obscures actual mapping practices. Cartography is a simulacram: it is an image of something that has never existed that hides not the truth but the fact that there is none (Edney, Cartography [2019]). The polemics addressed a myth, not actual mapping practices. This does not mean that the polemicists were wrong, but that mapped territories have been gendered in more nuanced ways.

This presentation accordingly considers how specific Western mapping practices have equated bodies to territories. Three distinct strategies for mapping regions and landscapes as bodies stand out: 

1)     allegorical representations in geographical mapping have, since the sixteenth century, construed continents and regions as female figures, as in the famous titlepage to Abraham Ortelius’s Theatrum orbis terrarium (1570);

2)     analytical mapping has occasionally anatomized spatial structures as male figures, as in A. F. McKay’s Man of Commerce (1889); and

3)     place and territorial mappings in the modern era have used figurative strategies to represent landscapes as female bodies subject to a masculinist gaze and desire, apparent in innumerable moments in art, film, opera, and popular culture generally.

The ideal of cartography has determined territorial maps to be the default or prototypical map form, in large part through their ability to hold the Western male gaze. Consideration of their gendered nature reveals how (male) Westerners have, in line with the ideal, interrogated them as potent images through which to impose their desires onto landscapes.


Lisa Hellman

Of Men and Maps: Russo-Chinese Border Making in the Early Eighteenth Century

From the time when international groups of mapmakers traversed the Siberian steppe to when their work was rediscovered by early twentieth-century scholars, the mapping of Central Asian lands were intertwined with the making of multiple masculinities. To properly understand this scientific, colonial and political border-making it is necessary to explore in what ways, and to what end, such imperial projects were gendered.

In the late-seventeenth and the early-eighteenth centuries, Russia was expanding eastwards at the same time at the Qing empire was expanding westwards. Between them were large and small Central Asian polities, each with their own ambitions. At this time, there were over 25,000 male and female prisoners of war in Russia from the Swedish army, the officers of which were trained in mapmaking. Many continued that work – voluntarily or involuntarily – in Siberia, China and Central Asia. With these coerced actors as a prism, it is possible to trace multiple parallel and competing imperial mappings, and the role of both men and women in it.

On the steppe, we can follow emerging ideas of scientific personas and freedom, religious and cosmological aspects of European and non-European empires, nomadic and resident ideas of territory, forced and voluntary mobility, and of overlapping and conflicting aesthetic and scholarly norms of mapping. All of these were, and remain, domains in which power and gender are intertwined in complicated ways: the imperial masculinity often connected to exploration, science and imperial expansion looked quite different in Russia, China, Dzungaria – and Sweden. To consciously gender these unfree, but highly mobile, mapmakers provides an increased understanding of historical actors’ driving forces, as well as both commensurability and incommensurability in their intercultural contacts.


Ronak K. Kapadia

Shadow Atlas: Affective Mappings of US Drone Warfare and the Queer Calculus of Pain

The paper examines contemporary multimedia art works by Iraqi American artist Wafaa Bilal and American artist elin o’Hara slavick as a meditation on how the violence of US imperial war-making across the long-twentieth century has devastated humans, animals, and social ecologies in the Greater Middle East. Bilal is best known for a performance in which he lived in a gallery for a month and was shot with paintballs by remote internet users watching through a webcam. His other works include a twenty-four-hour endurance performance in which the artist tattooed a borderless map of Iraq onto his back and another in which he surgically implanted a surveillance camera onto his skull for a year. The crucial force of Bilal’s artwork hinges on the pain he inflicts on his own body—especially his skin. My reading of Bilal’s performances highlights the critical role of touch, embodiment, and the senses in forging what I term a “queer calculus” to analyze the effects of US counterinsurgencies and their toxic afterlives. elin o’Hara slavick’s drawing and painting series Protesting Cartography or Places the United States Has Bombed offers an important intertext to Bilal’s corporeal mappings by confronting our collective failure of imagination about what bombs do to populations, bodies, and topographies. Working from an eclectic archive of military surveillance imagery, aerial photographs, battle plans, and maps, slavick reimagines these landscapes in watercolor paintings to compose a shadow atlas of largely uninterrupted US aerial bombing campaigns since the 1940s. Together, these artists powerfully attest to the violent expanse of postwar US geopolitical power around the globe and make palpable the “sensorial life of empire.” Through close readings of their insurgent aesthetic projects, I trace an alternative affective map of the social worlds and populations disappeared by contemporary US drone strikes in Iraq and by extension in “Af-Pak,” Yemen, Somalia, Niger, and related sites of US forever warfare.


Lucas LaRochelle

Queering The Map: Co-Creating an Archive of Queer Feeling

To queer space is to point to the limits of current realities that do not adequately consider the safety and wellbeing of marginalized bodies, and in doing so, points to other possibilities. These spaces of possibility are often ephemeral, and are produced through the actions of queer bodies resisting or even simply existing in the face of dominant power structures that would rather we not exist. Despite their ephemeral nature, these actions of resistance do not simply disappear into the ether once they have been performed, but rather hold the possibility to act as catalysts for a reimagining of a queerer, more radically open world.

Queering The Map is a community-generated digital counter-mapping project that aims to archive moments of queer existence and resistance in relation to physical space. From direct action activism to conversations expressing gender pronouns, from feelings of isolation to moments of rapturous love, Queering the Map functions as a living archive of queer feeling. By mapping out queer experience in all of its permutations, Queering the Map aims to extend the lingering of these queer potentialities in physical space, by archiving them in virtual space. In making ephemeral moments of queerness legible outside of the subjective, the project opens up a potentiality for new modes of intersubjective connection across spatial/temporal divides. At the time of writing, Queering The Map hosts over 65,000 stories of queer experience from all over the world. 

This paper/project presentation will chart the emotional, theoretical, and relational underpinnings of Queering The Map, and explore the ways in which it has developed into a veritable digital ‘community of care’ through the merging of subjective experiences into a publicly accessible collective archive of queer feeling.


Padma D. Maitland

A Map, Some Thread, a Line: The Cartography of Tiffany Chung

Maps define relationships. They can legitimize borders, delineate power, and reify narratives of separation, difference, and control. They can also reveal hidden connections, outlining geographic continuities, social displacement, and the movement of resources, people, and phenomena. Recently, there has been an interest among artists to think about how cartographic practices can be used to query dominant teleologies, encouraging viewers to question personal and collective histories around culture and place. Tiffany Chung has been at the forefront of such efforts, producing beautiful and evocative maps that chart the migration of refugees, zones of conflict, and patterns of decay and resilience. While Chung works in a variety of mediums, this paper will focus on her embroidered and canvas maps, exploring materiality as one dimension of Chung’s cartographic practice. As the curator Zoe Butt writes of Chung’s show scratching the walls of memory, “While the transferal of these charts from paper to canvas/vellum could be stereotypically considered domestic objects and the practice of a female that is largely decorative in nature, for Chung the act of enduring the waiting, the anxiety, the unknowing, symbolizes persistence, diligence and resilience.” Moving between careful stitch work and highly embellished surfaces complete with beads, buttons, and grommets, Chung’s work embodies layers of personal and cultural associations that are then encoded into the maps themselves. Through a consideration of Chung’s work in conversation with other contemporary artists and communities that use textiles as objects for collective memory and narration, this paper attempts to think more broadly about the power of cartography to embody personal experiences and acts of remembrance, while still addressing global cultural and political shifts.


Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker

Mapping the Dislocations: Zarina’s Maps

Memory, mapping, mortality—these essential human concerns infuse Zarina Hashmi’s art. She asks the existential questions of meaning in order to try to make sense of her life that has become a journey that she has mapped and recorded through her art and writing. Her memories of her formative years in India provide the font from which she draws. 

Zarina has lived all over the world, yet it is the memories of home and separation that have guided her journeys both real and imaginary. To find meaning in her life she has resorted to maps. For Zarina making maps was a logical consequence for the life of a traveler. She has remarked that, “When maps were not available, I would draw my own from books at the library. Maps became a necessity to chart my destinations and find my way.”

Studying maps, Zarina became aware of borders. The first border she drew was the border between India and Pakistan, the dividing line that split families and houses. She has often been questioned about the line. Her response has been, “Perhaps I distributed territory incorrectly, but I always say, ‘It is drawn on my heart, I didn’t have to look at a map.’ I have crossed many borders and I know there is nothing on the land that delineates the difference. It affects people who have lived the separation. I continue to work with geographical maps and not just maps that had personal significance but also maps of regions plagued by ethnic conflicts” (2011).  Zarina draws maps of places to prevent them from being erased from memory. Nowhere is this more poignant than in her series of nine woodblock prints with Urdu text entitled, “…These Cities Blotted into the Wilderness”.


Allyson M. Poska

Creating Spaces: Women and the Limits of Cartography in the Early Modern Atlantic World

Although the early modern period witnessed a remarkable expansion in cartographic knowledge, most women (and men) would never have seen a map. Indeed, the population was highly mobile, undertaking both short and long-distance journeys and displaying an understanding of places and routes that was only tangentially connected to the images created by mapmakers. In this presentation, I will examine how cartography framed (or did not frame) how early modern women understood the spaces of the early modern Atlantic world. First, I will explore how cartography created the places of the Atlantic as an idea for early modern women. Then, I will discuss the decision to move around the Atlantic world and the degree to which that decision was impacted by cartography, as the maps created by others determined the destinations of women of all races and classes. Finally, I will explore how early modern women then reconceptualized the spaces of the Atlantic world based on a combination of the knowledge provided by maps and the realities of their experiences as travelers and migrants.


Margaret Pritchard

Maps as Gendered Objects of Material Culture

This paper will discuss maps as objects of material culture from the seventeenth to the early-nineteenth centuries. During this period maps and globes served as both practical and symbolic devices to define gender relationships. Men used maps expressively to establish themselves as a person of intelligence or means who possessed a global world-view.

While maps were necessary to travel from one place to another, establish boundaries, claim land, wage and record battles, they also were hung within houses to suggest male aspirations or social status. Conscious choices were made regarding the specific location and visual display of maps within households that evoke a gendered cartographic language. 

Maps were also often included as symbolic props within paintings and prints to reflect the aspirations and values of the subjects depicted. The scientific nature of maps embodied gender discourses that conveyed social, economic, or political power that generally excluded women. In some cases, maps were used within paintings and prints to depict less-flattering messages where women were concerned.


Patricia Seed

Women Cartographers Who Should Be Famous: How Far Have We Really Come?

I am interested in the professional and personal obstacles faced by brilliant women scientists who made major contributions during the second half of the twentieth century. My presentation will focus on the lives of two female scientists: Marie Tharp and Irene Fischer. Marie Tharp performed the calculations and drew the first map to prove the existence of continental drift. Irene Fischer, working for the U.S. government, created two classic geodetic models that remain among the world standards still used today. Why do the barriers they encountered seem so familiar?


Judith Tyner

Three Women Pictorial Cartographers: A study in contrasts

The period from the 1920s to the 1950s has been called the “golden age of pictorial cartography”.  The rise in auto tourism on the newly designated U.S. highway system and cheap color lithography combined to increase the creation of pictorial maps aimed at tourism, advertising, and education. Many independent women cartographers were involved in the field and, unlike women in government and commercial mapping firms, their names can be found on the maps. Women were involved in all aspects of pictorial mapping but in this paper, I will look at the lives and maps of three women who made quite different and contrasting types of pictorial maps. Ruth Taylor White was noted for humorous maps that are shocking to modern eyes, but were popular in their time. Louise Jefferson’s maps were designed to be informative or educational and make no attempt at humor. Alva Scott Garfield created maps aimed at tourists that used humor, but were not cartoonish.  The maps of these three women have much to tell us not only about pictorial cartography, but also the tenor of the time.


Michael G. Vann

Intimacy in Cartography: Mapping the White Man’s Bad Behavior in French Colonial Indochina

In the nineteenth century, there was a striking gender imbalance amongst the white communities of the vast European imperial possessions in the tropical world. In contrast to the more temperate settler colonies, these colonies had an unhealthy reputation as home to diseases associated with heat and humidity and there were very few European women present. While female immigration did increase in the early-twentieth century, the tropical colonial world remained overwhelmingly white and male. Assuming that the majority of these men conformed to France’s heteronormative identity and practices, sexually active men must have engaged in various relationships with Asian women. Such behavior challenged racial boundaries. Colonial archives, themselves the product of political calculations, are generally silent on such issues. However, unconventional historical sources, such as ribald cartoons published in the local press, reveal the hidden history of white sexual behavior in French colonial Vietnam. These texts allow for a regional mapping of white male sexual practice and even their geographically informed patterns of desire. The resulting cartography of intimacy demonstrates the racialized and gendered power relationships of empire.


Anna Fore Waymack and John Wyatt Greenlee

Thinking in a Man’s World: Christine de Pizan and Gendered Mnemonic Mapping

Does Christine de Pizan think like a man? In her metacognitive early work Le Livre du Chemin de Long Estude she shows readers her mental processes, envisaged as following the Sibyl about the pathways of the world before ascending to Lady Reason’s court. This mental world is not original to Christine: she overtly borrows it from the textual mappamundi of the popular Travels of Sir John Mandeville, a book that offers its readers cartographic scaffolding for their memories. Mandeville’s text served as a base for mnemonics which readers might reinterpret to their own ends, shaping their mental selfhood around its textual map. Man dwells on, encompasses, is interchangeable with, and replicates the world and the generations within it, rendering the medieval homo-mundus analogy a collapsed palimpsest of identity. But man, here, is both generalized and gender-specific; Christine complicates that, rewriting the map even as she uses it.

By being both a shared space and an internal self-representation, Christine’s iteration of the Mandeville map folds her male ancestors, both biological and intellectual, into her memories. The locations and scenes Christine picks reillustrate Mandeville’s, and she explicates her practice of using the pathways of the mappamundi, populated by all the past writers and her own father, to recollect, reflect and compose. In so doing, she renders the memories -- and thus the landscape itself -- male, even as her means of navigating and utilizing those memories are, per Boethius’s Lady Philosophy and many other precedents, female: the Sibyl, Reason, and a host of other personifications. By placing her male memories, map and material (a contrast to personifications of female, generative Nature) in sharp relief against her cognitive apparatus, she highlights and makes strange the male material she has inherited. The juxtaposition reframes her world of canonical texts as one that is conspicuously unnatural.