Mapping the Global Imaginary, 1500—1900

February 14
15, 2019 | Conference on 'Mapping the Global Imaginary, 15001900'

From Vernunfftmässige Beschribung der Erd-Kugel, Theodor Schoon, Zürich: 169-. Image courtesy of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich.


Note: Attendance is free and open to the public and includes a reception at Green Library on Thursday, February 14th, 2019. Pre-registration is required, please register here.

On February 14th15th, 2019 The David Rumsey Map Center will host a two-day conference on 'Mapping and the Global Imaginary, 1500—1900'. The conference is co-sponsored by the Stanford History Department, Global History & Culture Centre at the University of Warwick, England, UK, and the David Rumsey Map Center.

When mapping on a global scale, the line between factual and fictitious landscape quickly blurs. The speakers of ‘Mapping the Global Imaginary, 1500—1900’ cross this blurry boundary into every continent, as well as purely speculative ones, to share a host of cartographic enterprises. From the imaginary Kobitojima Island propagated by Edo cartographers to the armchair geography seeking to define colonial Africa, to efforts at mapping airspace itself, topics probe the extent and diversity of challenge and license inherent in mapmaking from a (cognitive) distance. 
Professor Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University), author The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories, will present the keynote address. Panel speakers include Ademide Adelusi-Adeluyi, Zoltán Biedermann, Nathan Braccio, Corin Braga, Jordana Dym, Matthew Edney, Quintana Heathman, David Lambert, Carla Lois, Ewa Machotka, Bertie Mandelblatt, Erika Monahan, Luca Scholz, Chet Van Duzer, and Bram Vannieuwenhuyze.
‘Mapping the Global Imaginary, 1500—1900’ will take place February 14—15, 2019, at Stanford’s renowned David Rumsey Map Center. Founded in April 2016, the Rumsey Map Center houses a large collection of historic maps, atlases, and their digital surrogates, as well as state-of-the-art facilities for digital projection and display.


DAY ONE (Thursday Feb. 14)

12:30 - 1:00 Doors open; Registration

1:00 - 1:15 G. Salim Mohammed, Welcome and Housekeeping;  Kären Wigen - (Department of History, Stanford University): Opening remarks 

1:15 - 2:15 Panel 1 - Filling in the blanks 

Erika Monahan (University of New Mexico): “Appropriating Blank Spots: Witsen’s Use of Remesov’s Siberian Maps”

Zoltán Biedermann (University College London): “Drawing Lines to Tame the Unknown: A Typology of Littorals in Early Modern Maps”


2:30 - 4:00 Panel 2 - The fifth part of the world: 3-person panel

Carla Lois (University of Buenos Aires): “Quinta pars or terra incognita? Verisimilitude in the Cartographic Representation of the Unknown”

Chet Van Duzer (Independent): “Imagined Territories Around the South Pole: The Southern Ring Continent, 1515-1554”

Corin Braga (Babes-Bolyai University): “The Invention of Terra Australis Incognita”

4:00 - 4:15 Discussion


4:15 - 5:15 Reception in the Rotunda


5:15 – 5:30 Kären Wigen: Introduction of Keynote Address

5:30 - 6:30 Keynote Address

Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University): “Going Artfully Global”

6:30 - 7:00 Q & A / Discussion

7:30 pm  doors close



9:30 am - doors open

10:00 - 11:00 Panel 3 - Colonial fantasies

Bertie Mandelblatt (The John Carter Brown Library, Brown University): “Potato Pieces, Bananeries and Jardins à nègres: Mapping Colonial Fantasies of Self-Sufficiency in Plantation America”

Nathan Braccio (University of Connecticut): “English Fantasies of Indigenous Deeds: The Strategic English Employment of Maps and Algonquians”


11:15 - 12:15 Panel 4 - Archepelagic visions

Quintana Heathman (Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, UC Davis): “The Imaginary Island of Kobitojima in Japanese Maps and Books of the Edo Period”

Ewa Machotka (Stockholm University): “Vernacular Mapping: Early Modern Imaginaries of Lake Biwa in a Computational Perspective”


12:30 - 1:30 Panel 5 - Conjured cities

Ademide Adelusi-Adeluyi (University of California, Riverside): “It ‘Looks Well on Paper’: Mapmaking, Lagos and the Colonial Archive”

Bram Vannieuwenhuyze (University of Amsterdam): “Assessing and Explaining the Imaginative Nature of Early Modern City and Story Maps” 


1:30 - 2:45 Lunch Break


2:45 - 3:45 Panel 6 - Enduring tropes of travel

Jordana Dym (Skidmore College): “Mapping Sentiment and Expectations: Itinerary Maps and Western Visions of Spanish America”

David Lambert (University of Warwick): “Imaginary Africa: Armchair Geographers, Romantic Writers and Visions of the ‘Dark Continent’”


4:00 - 5:00 Panel 7 - Earth - Air - Water

Matthew Edney (University of Southern Maine): “Positioning the Earth in the Eighteenth Century: Mapping the Cosmographical and Terraqueous Globes”

Luca Scholz (Stanford University): “Mapping Airspace”


5:00 - 5:30 Discussion 

5:30 - 5:45 Closing remarks

6:00 pm - doors close

Attendance is free and open to the public and includes a reception at Green Library on Thursday, February 14th, 2019. Pre-registration is required, please register here.