HPS331: Global History of Mapping
Fridays, 10-12 am, VC212
Course Description: Maps are pervasive in our world: so indispensable, and so disposable that thousands are made, used, and discarded every day. Yet not long ago, maps were both rare and strange technological things. When and why did modern mapping systems come into being? Behind this transformation lie contentious stories of objects and people, makers and users, global forces and local dynamics, metropoles and colonies, and technologies and cultures. This course introduces a broad range of research in the fields of STS, map studies, and history, and takes the long view of the history of mapping sciences from the early 1500s to the present. Each week illuminates cartographic artifacts by centering on a particular keyword, including mathematical projections, boundaries, worldmaking, power, territory, spatial literacy, GPS, orientations, visual authority, and countermapping. These themes draw attention to a number of related issues, to which we will keep on returning throughout the course. Why do maps capture our attention? What makes a map scientific, objective or trustworthy? How have constructions like territory, nation, property, class, race, gender, and the human/non-human divide mediated the proliferation of mapping systems? How does mapping, in turn, render these constructions tangible? How has the formation of these systems redistributed power in different social contexts? How have other traditions of mapping traveled and meshed with modern technologies in various parts of the world?