Celebrating Cartographies of Africa and Asia and Their Complexities: Territoriality and Its Other

On the 12th and 13th of January 2023, we celebrated the successful completion of the project Cartographies of Africa and Asia (1800–1945). A Project for the Digitization of Maps of the Perthes Collection Gotha (KarAfAs) with our final conference Territoriality and Its Other at the Centre for Transcultural Studies in Gotha. More than 35,000 maps of the Perthes Collections depicting Africa and Asia and their respective regions have been digitized since the beginning of the project in May 2021, and are now available to the international scientific community via the database Digital Historical Library Erfurt/Gotha.

Starting on Thursday evening with a festive keynote by Zef Segal (Open University of Israel, Ra’anana) on the Jabotinsky-Perlman-Atlas as a paradoxical cartographic work, on the following day multiple presentations illuminated the interplay of cartography and the construction of territoriality from different academic disciplines, thereby opening a wide field of perspectives on the construction of territoriality/territorialities in cartographic material with all its complexities and ambivalences.

From left to right: Zef Segal, Jana Moser, Beatriz Véliz Argueta, Jitka Močičková, Andreas Dix, Sarah Frenking, Felix Schürmann, Iris Schröder, Fesseha Berhe Gebregergis, Annika Dörner, Dominic Keyßner, Anna Maria Hünnes, Claudia Berger, Julia Toni and Verena Pichler.

After an introduction of the project Cartographies of Africa and Asia, its design, results and its specific interest in the construction of territoriality, Sarah Frenking (University of Erfurt) and Jana Moser (IfL, Leipzig) offered differing perspectives on the construction of territoriality with maps: While Frenking focussed on a praxeological perspective, Moser analysed the conventions and technical design that inform European expectations towards cartography. Afterwards, due to the thematic focus of the project KarAfAs itself, special attention was given to the construction of territoriality concerning cartographic material of Africa and Asia.

In the first panel, the project ETHIOMAP and its innovative research on maps of the Horn of Africa were introduced by Éloi Ficquet (EHESS Paris) and Wolbert Smidt (University of Jena/Mekelle) via video message, while Fesseha Berhe Gebregergis (CTS Gotha), also a researcher at ETHIOMAP, did an in-depth-analysis of maps constructed by Europeans in the aftermath of the Napier Expedition to Magdala (1867–68). A different angle was employed by Felix Schürmann (University of Hamburg), who analysed the artificial construction of natural spaces by European governmental actors and their respective mapping practices.

The panel on Asia illuminated, on the one hand, the construction and ambivalences of borders in Qing China (Ines Eben von Racknitz, FU Berlin) and, on the other hand, translation practices and their implications for the design of cartography. Andreas Dix (University of Bamberg) offered a case study on Hassenstein’s work on Japan at Justus Perthes Gotha. Ironically, Hassenstein’s inventive translation practices severely limited the international impact of his cartography. 

The event was concluded by a discussion led by Jitka Močičková (AVCR Prague) and Beatriz Véliz Argueta (CTS Gotha), both members of the international working group Territoriality and Cartographic Knowledge, which was founded as a part of the KarAfAs project. Focussing on the potential and implications for research, the discussants explored related topics and problem areas, which grazed the manifold field of interactions of conceptions of territoriality with cartography, and ended with an outline of further research desiderata.

A detailed conference report is forthcoming.

Cite this blog post
Claudia Berger (2023, February 1). Celebrating Cartographies of Africa and Asia and Their Complexities: Territoriality and Its Other. Mapping Africa and Asia. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/qlpp

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