The Production of Maps in New Spain

AHA Session 23
Conference on Latin American History 4
Thursday, January 6, 2011: 3:00 PM-5:00 PM
Room 201 (Hynes Convention Center)
Thomas B.F. Cummins, Harvard University
The Audience

Session Abstract

The late historian of cartography J. B. Harley argued that maps are multivalent, socially constituted images and inherently political items that do not reproduce a topographic reality, but instead interpret it while employing intellectual processes (artistic or scientific) to create a distinctive type of knowledge (Harley, 2002). In the spirit of Harley's scholarship, this panel abandons cartographic positivism centered on the neutrality of maps, on their modes of production, and significantly, on the objective knowledge they purportedly offer. In reconsidering maps and their value, we analyze the epistemological frameworks that order the making of maps and the knowledge they convey. Using examples drawn from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, we seek to situate the mapmaking process within its specific cultural milieu revealing the modes of representation, production, and reception as well material and technological implications of the production of maps in Mexico.

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