Skip to main content

Topics in History: Global Approaches to Precolonial and Colonial Cartography

An image of a blue circle with writing on it, which is a medieval islamic map of the world
Medieval Islamic Map of the World

This course is concerned with the history of precolonial and colonial cartography. Taking a global approach to the history of maps and mapping, it examines broader questions related to spatial practices, representations, and conceptions. The course interrogates the connection between mapping, power, and identity and discusses the imaginative, aesthetic, political, and ideological dimensions of maps and mapping. The course discusses African, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, American, European and other varied perspectives on the conceptions of space and cartographic and non-cartographic mapping practices before and during European colonialism. Mapping is part of the discursive operation of knowing, producing, configuring, exploiting, and dominating space according to the imperatives of a given socio-economic formation and specific political and military projects. The course encourages students to do deep-reading of maps and mapping practices to uncover their political, economic, social and disciplinary functions. 

Evaluation activities for this course include: a full and meaningful participation in class discussions; a total of six weekly response papers; a five-page long critical essay on one of the major themes discussed in the course; and a semester essay.

This course is offered as a 4.5-unit seminar during the 2022-2023 year. 

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.