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Annual Meeting

Fifty-fourth Annual Meeting
Society for the History of Discoveries
October 31 – November 3, 2013
Tampa, Florida

SHD Annual Meeting 2013
Daily Program
Annual Meeting Photos

Abstracts of Papers Delivered at the 54th Annual Meeting of
The Society for the History of Discoveries
Tampa Bay History Center/Tampa, Florida
October 31 – November 2, 2013


(listings incomplete)

Missionary Cartography of the Amazon after the Treaty of Madrid (1750):
A Jesuit's Contribution to the Demarcation of Imperial Frontiers

Mirela Altić

The Spanish-Portuguese treaty signed in Madrid in 1750 (The Treaty of Madrid) was a turning point not only in the colonial history of Brazil, but also in the history of Jesuit cartography of that area. In 1753 the Spanish-Portuguese demarcation in the Amazon region was entrusted to a group of military engineering officers who, under the king's orders, were joined by a royal mathematician and astronomer from Croatia, the Jesuit Ignatius Szentmártonyi (1718-1793).

Based on Szentmártonyi’s, astronomical and geodetic survey along the river courses of the Amazon and Rio Negro, a first detailed, mathematically based map of the area was created in 1755. In addition to being the first accurate map of the Amazon and Rio Negro, this map is significant because it represents a rare case of cooperation between the Jesuit and military cartographers in their joint service to the imperial politics. This service would, however, have disastrous consequences for the Jesuit order.

Biographical Sketch:  Prof. dr. Mirela Altić, is a chief research fellow in the Institute of Social Sciences Zagreb, Croatia, where she works as a Head of the Centre of Urban and Local History. She specializes in historical geography, historical cartography, urban and local history. At the Department of History of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb, as full professor, Dr Altić lectures on ‘Introduction to the Reading of Historic Maps’ and ‘Cartographic Sources for European and Croatian History’. She has been the head of Croatian national project, ‘Historic Towns Atlas’, since 2003. She is also the author of 15 books, including five volumes of the Croatian Historic Towns Atlas. In 2004, she won the annual prize for science for her book Historical Cartography: Cartographic Sources in Historical Sciences. Most recently she published a book Russian Cartography of Montenegro: 19th Century Cartography in the Service of Diplomacy published by the Russian Academy of Science (edited by A. V. Postnikov). For academic year 2013/2014 she won David Woodward Memorial Fellowship at University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr Altić is a member of the ICA Commission on the History of Cartography and Society for the History of Discoveries.

A Moroccan Ambassador’s Travelogue in Spain (1690-91) and its Legacy

Lauren Beck

While conducting archival research in Spain in 2009, I discovered a hitherto unstudied travelogue at the University of Seville’s library that documents the travels of a Moroccan ambassador to the court of Carlos II in 1690-1691. His purpose was to negotiate a prisoner exchange as well as the return of a number of Arabic-language manuscripts held at the royal palace near Madrid. Al-Ghassani was more than an erudite diplomat, however, and descended from Spanish Muslims exiled a couple centuries before his embassy. Through his eyes the reader comprehends his travels and how Spaniards reacted to this foreign dignitary while witnessing the recuperation of his historical memory.

While other versions of this travelogue have come to light and some notable translations of these extant manuscripts have emerged over recent decades (including those by Bustani, Foulché-Delbosc, Lévi-Provençal, N. Matar, Stanley, and Ulysse), the Seville MS contains details not included in the Madrid, Lisbon, Rabat and Rouen manuscripts, and the Spanish translation that accompanies it requires that we unravel a second mystery concerning its provenance.   

The second part of this presentation addresses the legacy of the travelogue: how did a Moroccan ambassador’s personal writings come to lie at the University of Seville’s archive, a city he had never visited, after we know he returned safety to Morocco and died there about twenty years later? Seeking answers to this quandary we are transported to the Franciscan missions in Tetuan, Morocco — created after Al-Ghassani’s embassy to attend to the Spanish captives remaining there — where nineteenth-century missionaries studied the Arabic language. Maghrebi and Arabic-language documents were subsequently smuggled into Spain by the missionaries, and then transcribed and translated into Spanish. Al-Ghassani’s narrative of discovery transformed into an opportunity for missionaries and government officials to discover historical perspectives and knowledge about Spain.

Biographic Sketch:  Dr. Lauren Beck is Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies at Mount Allison University (New Brunswick, Canada) and she specializes in early modern transatlantic culture with particular interest in cartography, Islam and visual culture. She holds grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and her book, Transforming the Enemy in Spanish Culture, is forthcoming (2013). Research from chapters of this book has been presented to SHD (2008, 2010) and an article of hers about the naming of California is forthcoming in Terrae Incognitae. She is currently preparing a co-edited collection dedicated to the imposition of text on image, and image on text. Her future projects include exploring the materiality of nothingness in terms of the geography of place and body, and a digital repository of maritime maps created or published before 1800 extracted from regional and university archives. Details concerning this final initiative will be shared with the membership of SHD during this fall’s meeting. The present research relates to a larger project interested in African slavery in Spain; a second paper from this project documents the life of a slave named Alonso who worked in the gardens of the Reales Alcázares (Seville) in the 1560s.

The Case for San Salvador as the Site of the 1492 Columbus Landfall:
Principles of Historical Archaeology Applied to Current Evidence

Jeffrey P. Blick

Scholars have disputed the location of Columbus’s 1492 landfall site for hundreds of years, practically since the actual landfall itself. Archaeological excavations conducted by Charles A. Hoffman, Jr. in the early 1980s at the late prehistoric/contact period Long Bay site (SS-9) on San Salvador, Bahamas revealed a suite of early European colonial artifacts, many of which have been sourced to Spain by both lead isotope and stylistic analyses. Additionally, the island of modern-day San Salvador meets the general descriptions of the island originally named “Guanahani” in the Native American Lucayan language, subsequently christened “San Salvador” by Columbus when he officially claimed the island for Spain on October 12, 1492. Historical artifacts from the Long Bay site match the descriptions of artifacts traded to the local Lucayans as described in Columbus’s Diario or daily ship’s log. Trade items included small green and yellow glass beads, a Spanish Henry IV coin, bronze rings and buckles, broken sherds of glazed pottery, and bits of metal, etc., recovered in the same strata with late local Lucayan pottery. The Henry IV coin was minted from 1471-1474, and the glass beads are similar to other Spanish trade beads of the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Lead isotope analyses on several artifacts identified elemental similarities with other artifacts and mineral ores from four separate areas in Spain, including the Río Tinto mining region 70 km inland from the port of Palos de la Frontera, Columbus’s point of embarkation. Using principles of historical archaeology, the terminus post quem (TPQ) or “limit after which” the artifacts were deposited is sometime after 1474, the last year the Henry IV coin was minted. A terminus ante quem (TAQ) or “limit before which” the artifacts were deposited is provided by the end dates of production of the Spanish glass beads, brass buckle and D-ring, and glazed pottery (ca. A.D. 1550). Finally, calculation of the average mean production date of the artifacts (ca. 1482.9) and the mean artifact date (MAD) of the artifacts (ca. 1497.8) provides strong evidence that the Long Bay artifacts must have been deposited on San Salvador sometime in the late fifteenth century. The simplest explanation for the presence of these late fifteenth century artifacts on San Salvador is that Columbus and his crew traded these artifacts to the Lucayans as Columbus himself described in his Diario of 1492.

Biographic Sketch: Jeffrey P. Blick is Professor of Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies, and Coordinator of the Anthropology Program, at Georgia College & State University (GCSU), Milledgeville, Georgia, USA. Professor Blick holds a BS from Virginia Commonwealth University (Sociology & Anthropology), a MS from the University of Alabama (Geography), and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Pittsburgh (Anthropology/Archaeology). An experienced scholar in the archaeology of Latin America, especially the Circum-Caribbean/Intermediate Area, Professor Blick has written numerous reports, scientific articles and chapters in journals and books published on several continents. He has presented scientific papers at scores of regional, national, and international conferences on topics ranging from anthropology and archaeology to genocide and human rights abuses, and has given invited lectures at colleges and universities around the United States. He is currently performing archaeological research on the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas, the island of Columbus’s 1492 landfall, and has been awarded grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the H. John Heinz III Charitable Trust, the Tinker Foundation, and the Council on Undergraduate Research. Since 1998, Professor Blick has created more than a dozen new anthropology and interdisciplinary studies courses at GCSU, including his newest course, “This Island Earth,” initiated a Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program, and created a new Anthropology Minor Program. Professor Blick is currently working with students on his long-term project, the osteometry and paleopathology of prehistoric dogs.

Mapping La Florida

Peter Cowdrey

(Abstract pending)

The Digital Reconstruction of El Mapa Militar de Puerto Rico:
An Analysis of the Spanish Military Topographic Project in Puerto Rico, 1872-1897

Michael Deliz    

Over a period of 25 years, 1872-1897, the Puerto Rican division of the Spanish Estado Mayor conducted an itinerary survey of the island with the expressed purpose of assessing the island’s military preparedness against internal and external threats.  The resulting topographic data, known collectively as El Mapa Militar de Puerto Rico, represents Spain’s most comprehensive and scientific effort for geographic knowledge of the island prior to the arrival American authority in 1898.  Unfortunately, much of this data - over 4,000 pages of survey maps, statistical reports, and field observations - remained inaccessible until 2007 when Spain’s Ministry of Defense compiled, indexed, and digitized the documents. However, the collection’s size, its primarily visual composition, its little-known existence, and general academic apathy toward the cartographic history of Puerto Rico, have all contributed to a collection left idle without proper historical treatment.

In view of this neglect, this project digitally reconstructs the Mapa Militar to seek out the method and progress of the topographic surveys in order to understand Spain’s growing awareness of the island and its colonial condition on the eve of the Spanish-American War. Due to the level of detail in the surveys, a picture of differential development across the island comes into view and is made accessible to new analysis. Reconstructed using digital image software and GIS technologies, the visual nature of the survey drafts, the statistical data compiled in the process, and the topographers’ own personal observations are herein mapped together to represent the island of Puerto Rico in the late-nineteenth century in a manner never seen before.

Biographic Sketch: Michael A. Deliz is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Transatlantic History Ph.D. Program at the University of Texas at Arlington.  He has been the recipient of numerous travel and research grants in service of his area of interest, the late-nineteenth century Spanish Colonial Caribbean.  Most recently he was recognized with the Provost Award for Best Oral Presentation at the ACES 2013 academic research conference.  

The Transatlantic Circulation of Geographical Maps before 1763

Matthew H. Edney

Histories of discovery, exploration, and settlement rely on maps — especially printed maps — as primary sources. However, such usage has generally relied on inadequate assumptions about the circulation and availability of geographical texts. This paper begins to reform this evidentiary practice by proposing an initial model of the movement of maps within the eighteenth-century British Atlantic. By understanding the processes that contributed to the creation of printed maps, we can make better evidentiary use of them.

Our understanding of the mapping of the colonies is flawed in two basic ways. First, we have presumed that the processes of map production are essentially linear: information passes from the survey to the map, from manuscripts to printed images, and from the colonies to London. Yet printed and manuscript maps circulated on both sides of the Atlantic and across the ocean in both directions; moreover, many manuscript maps that were carried across the Atlantic remained unprinted. Second, we have construed the distribution of printed maps to be both widespread and efficient, especially as the public sphere flourished after 1700, despite the fact that the early trade in printed matter suffered from significant spatial and economic discontinuities. That is, we can no longer presume that the preparation of a new map indicates the supply of new information from the colonies.

This presentation traces the specific trajectories of a series of manuscript and printed maps made in and of New England and the Maritimes, ca.1680-1763, to elucidate the precise circuits within which geographical texts were variously made and read. Three circuits are identified — governmental, private, and public — together with the means by which geographical maps moved between each. With this kind of model in mind, we can start to understand the information content of regional maps.

Biographic sketch: After reading geography at University College London (BSc 1983), Matthew Edney pursued graduate studies in cartography and map history at the University of Wisconsin (MS 1985; PhD 1990). He taught at SUNY Binghamton and in 1995 moved to the University of Southern Maine and its Osher Map Library. He has written widely on surveying and mapping in British India, the nature of Enlightenment cartography, and the colonial mapping of New England and North America. Already co-editor of Volume Four of The History of Cartography, Edney became director of the entire series in 2005.

Colonial Martyrs: Franciscans, Indians, and the Spiritual Conquest of Florida
Keynote address

J. Michael Francis

(abstract pending)

The representation of the Western Indies in the early Iberian cartography:
acartometric approach

Joaquim Alves Gaspar

The earliest extant cartographic representation of the Americas is in the planisphere of Juan de la Cosa, drawn in 1500 by the Cantabrian pilot of the same name. In this nautical chart, the New World is represented according to the information collected by the Spanish, English and Portuguese in the last years of the fifteenth century. One of its most striking features is the large size of the Antilles and northern coast of South America, which are represented with a remarkable scale exaggeration relative to Europe. This feature, which we might consider as an ‘original sin’ affecting all extant early mapping of the region, was replicated in the Cantino (1502), the Caverio (ca. 1505) and many other planispheres of the first quarter of the sixteenth century. The oldest charts in which the mistake appears to have been corrected are the Castiglioni and the Salviati planispheres (1525) attributed, respectively, to the cartographers Diogo Ribeiro and Nuño García de Toreno, both working at the time for the Spanish Crown, in the Casa de la Contratación of Seville.

In this paper the results of a cartometric analysis of a sample of early nautical charts of Spanish and Portuguese origin, from 1500 to 1525, are presented and discussed, aiming to determine how the representation of the Caribbean Sea evolved with time. Two cartometric methods were used: the estimation of the geographic grid of meridians and parallels implicit in the old maps, from which their main geometric features can be visually inspected; and the assessment of the latitude accuracy of the representations, from which the scale exaggeration and other anomalies can be estimated. To my knowledge this is the first systematic quantitative study about the distortions affecting the early cartographic representations of the Antilles and their correction.

Biographic Sketch: Joaquim Alves Gaspar is a scholar with Centro Interuniversitário de História das Ciências e da Tecnologia (CIUHCT) Faculdade de Ciências – Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal.

Culture, Contact and the Agency of Appropriation in a 1741 Map of Nagasaki

Josh Marcotte

(abstract pending)

Biographic Sketch: Joshua Michael (Josh) Marcotte was selected as the 2013 SHD Essay Contest winner for his essay titled, "Culture, Contact and the Agency of Appropriation in a 1741 Map of Nagasaki”. Josh is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.  Josh received his B.A. and M.A. in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies from Brown University, where he completed an undergraduate thesis regarding the spread of the Portuguese language along the Indian Ocean in the 15th and 16th centuries and a Master's thesis regarding the use of symbols of modernity within advertising and museum exhibitions in Angola, the United States, Brazil and Portugal during the middle of the 20th century. He is currently enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Minnesota within the History Department and the Center for Early Modern History. His research interests include Portuguese-Japanese relations and the history of cartography in Japan.

Love Letters and Lesser Beings: Travel Accounts of French and
Moroccan Diplomats during the Ancien Régime

Jim Matthews

How does a diplomat represent one absolute ruler at the court of another? Carefully, of course. How does one write descriptions of foreign places and people amazingly strange without suggesting they are better, more beautiful, more devout than those of one’s own country? These are some of the difficulties facing men and occasionally women who represented officially and unofficially the courts of the Kings of France and the Sultans of Morocco during the seventeenth century. Some of these individuals, part ambassador, part courier, part spy have left fascinating descriptions of what to them was extreme alterity. The French representatives created a rich literary vein to be exploited in the 18th century by such a writer as Montesquieu and on into the orientalism of the 19th. Within the last ten years, invigorated by recent translations, the Arabic observations in this exchange are becoming available to balance the conversation for western scholars.
Henri de Castries and Charles Penz have provided well-researched lists and descriptions of who these representatives were and when they served. Castries offers several means of access to diplomatic reports and descriptions. He first compiled an exhaustive compendium of previously unpublished correspondence between the two courts in multiple volumes; an added virtue of this collection is that it contains texts written in both French and Arabic. He also published in a single volume a brief description of each individual who represented or claimed to represent France to the Sultans of Morocco from the reign of Francis I to that of Louis XIV. Penz, on the other hand, provides history from original sources of the visits of various representatives of the Sultan to Louis XIV’s courts. Unlike the “sauvages” encountered by the King’s representatives in North America, the Moroccans were perfectly capable of printing their own impressions of the French. Scholars in the 1990’s such as Joy Charnley and Dominique Carnoy have described the difficulties encountered in attempting to represent these cultures to one another. In the past two decades, accounts of Moroccan visits to the courts of the Ancien Régime have come to the attention of western scholars. In his survey of North African travel writing, for example, Nabil Matar includes new translations of two such discourses that frame the century between the visit of Ahmad bin Qasim [al-Hajari] in 1611-1613 and that of Abdallah bin Aisha in 1699-1700. From among the French diplomats and adventurers, on the other hand, digitalization has made more widely available to student and scholar long-neglected sources such as perhaps the best and most comprehensive description of Morocco of its time, that of Pitou de St. Onge, envoy of Louis XIV to Sultan Moulai Ismaël in 1693-95.

While much has been written about the history of these visits, very little commentary has been offered as to the nature of the first-hand accounts themselves. I propose in this paper to begin a discussion of the various rhetorical strategies employed by these envoys and ambassadors who sought to record a portrait of France and Morocco while at the same time re-affirming the superiority of their own culture. The challenging combination of wonder and pride in these first-hand accounts makes for delicate and nuanced writing unlike much of what contemporary explorers wrote about indigenous peoples in North America. Whether expressing amazement at the inability of the French to understand their own holy writings, at the arbitrary terror of the rule of Mulai Ismaël, or in the expressions of love to the wife of a French friend (through her husband!), these writers convey very well the challenges if not the actual dangers of translating culture between absolute rulers. Although Qasim alone claimed a public audience for his work from the outset, and that some 30 years after his voyage, all three texts I discuss were made public during the lifetime of the authors and their influence on the thinking of future generations of travelers, colonizers, and resistors is inescapable.

Biographical Sketch: Professor Jim Matthews is Chair of the Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures Department at Illinois Wesleyan University where he is also Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies. He is in his 27th year at IWU where he has also served as Dean of Students from 1998-2005. He has focused on 17th and 18th century French travel literature concerning North America in recent years. With this paper, he expands his field of interest to include French travel to Asia and to the Middle East. At the same time, he is finishing a travel novel that is set in part in Morocco and he enjoys the synergy that derives from blending scholarly and personal literary interests. Perhaps inevitably, he lives in Mahomet, Illinois.

A Reassessment of the “North American Land Mass” on the
Waldseemuller “1507” World Map; Is It Really Florida?

Don McGuirk

Summer 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the Library of Congress’s finalized purchase of the Waldseemuller World Map. Since that time, numerous books and articles have been written regarding this justly famous map. Within those publications, most have assumed that the apparent continental land mass north of the island Isabella represents the Gulf of Mexico and the east coast of North America; based on its location, appearance and size.

This paper will argue that this reasonable assumption may be incorrect. Through review of maps and literature contemporary to Waldseemuller’s map, there is ample evidence to suggest that this continental land mass represents a misinterpretation of the Cuba that Columbus sailed on his first and second voyages, thinking it to be a part of Asia.

This paper will include a review of the thoughts by past, well respected, authors who agree with the premise of this paper (George E. Nunn, Henry Stevens and J. C. Brevoort) as well as old and NEW research on this topic  by this author.

Biographic Sketch: Don McGuirk is a retired pediatrician, living in Denver. He has been a member of SHD for 30 years. His publications on early maps have appeared in Imago Mundi, The Map Collector, Terrae Incognitae and The Portolan. He has given presentations on this same topic from San Francisco to Vienna. Don is also a retired Colonel, USAR, and the author of the book, The Last Great Cartographic Myth, Mer de l’Ouest.

Early Encounters by European Explorers with Native Americans in Florida

Jerald T. Milanich (Florida Museum of Natural History)

(Abstract pending)

Exploring the Manuscript Cartography of Florida and its connection to
Exploration and Settlement of the Territory

Richard Pflederer

The manuscript cartography of Florida represents a body of information only infrequently referenced but nonetheless important to understanding the history of Florida and the surrounding waters. Produced initially by Portuguese and Spanish authors, the cartographic record is insightful because these two countries did not possess a significant industry of printed maps, especially early on. Cartographers from other European countries soon followed: French, Dutch English. Viewed chronologically, this body of work offers an understanding of the evolution of European thinking on this beautiful but somewhat mysterious Land of Flowers.

Focusing on these sometimes enigmatic and often beautiful works from the sixteenth century, this paper aims to draw connections to the early exploration and settlement of the territory during the period.

Biographic Sketch:  Richard Pflederer is the author of seven reference books and articles, focusing on portolan charts and atlases. He won the Caird Fellowship of the National Maritime Museum in 2005 and has conducted other long term research projects while resident at the British Library and the Bodleian Library. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the Editorial Advisory Council of The Portolan and a member of the Society for the History of Discoveries and the International Map Collectors’ Society. He has lectured on related subjects at venues around the world, including London, Chicago, Washington, Miami, Guatemala City and Verona Italy, including four papers presented at previous SHD meetings. He teaches in the adult education section of the College of William & Mary and is a member of the adjunct faculty of Old Dominion University. In 2009 he founded the Williamsburg Map Circle, a group whose aim is to promote the understanding of maps within the community. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and now shares his time between Williamsburg, Virginia and Montepulciano, Tuscany.

Circulating exploration knowledge: tracing the discussion
of the interior of Australia in the 1840s

Johanna Skurnik (Finland)

This paper contributes to the burgeoning field of research on the processes and networks of exploration knowledge during the 19th century. It analyzes the ways in which different actors, such as explorers, armchair geographers and members of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) took part in the discussion about the nature of the interior of Australia. While previous scholars have noted the different theories on interior Australia put forward in the mid-1800s — the purported existence of an inland sea, a large river network, mountains, or ancient civilizations — this paper intends to go beyond the level of mere description in its analysis of these theories. It traces the discussion of the theories formulated by explorers, colonists and geographers. By doing so, it points out how hypotheses and empirical knowledge were analyzed and managed by the RGS and focuses on the communication and circulation processes of geographical knowledge in the 1840s. Thus, the analysis of the Australian case offers valuable insights to the ongoing scholarly debate about the reception of knowledge transmitted by the explorers.

These themes will be illustrated by referring to the 1840s debate on Australian hydrography. Questions about the nature of the interior were actively addressed by many explorers, colonists and geographers during the 1840s when explorers were trying to extend their journeys further inland. Some, for example the explorer Charles Sturt, argued that empirical observation supported the supposed hydrography. However, contradictory arguments were also presented and published. The explorer Edward J. Eyre for example, gave a presentation at the RGS on 23rd June 1845 claiming that the most likely scenario at the moment was that no large body of water existed. Eyre’s presentation was published a year later as an article in the society’s Journal with remarks by the editor stating that though the article was based on conjectural knowledge, the questions related to the interior parts of Australia were so interesting that publishing Eyre’s article was considered necessary.

The publication of Eyre’s conjectural article is an example of the processes through which meaning was given to explorer’s knowledge and interpretations – how they were receivedand discussed far away from the field. It demonstrates how the geographical community attached to the RGS functioned as a center for the analysis of explorers’ knowledge in private discussions, correspondence and public debate. Thus the RGS functioned as a mediator which gave the explorers opportunities to present their views and agreed to publish some of the arguments in its Journal.

Drawing upon a multifaceted collection of primary sources, such as correspondence, records of the Society’s meetings, and journal articles, the paper analyzes through the cases of Eyre and Sturt the circulation and networks of knowledge. By analyzing the mechanisms and actors that influenced and controlled the ways conjectural geographies of Australia were presented, it complements the existing scholarship on the cultures of exploration during the 19th century and broadens our understanding of the processes of exploration knowledge management.

Biographic Sketch: MA Johanna Skurnik is a first year doctoral student at the University of Turku, Finland. She received her Master’s Degree in General History from the University of Turku in 2012 and commenced to work on her dissertation “Circulating exploration knowledge: British Geographies of Australia, ca. 1830-1860” the same year. Her research interests are history of geographical thought and exploration, the networks of geographical knowledge in Great Britain during the 19th century, and history of cartography in general.

“Charting the Land of Flowers: 500 Years of Florida Maps“–
An introduction to the temporary exhibition at the Tampa Bay History Center

J. Thomas Touchton & Rodney Kite-Powell (Tampa Bay History Center)

(abstract pending)

Alterity and Allegory: Cannibalism, Early Maps and
European Conceptions of Amerindian Civility

Jim Walker

Cannibalism was a central theme in European discourse about the New World in the 16th century. In European consciousness this subject was rooted in historical understanding of the association with an uncivilized, savage lifestyle and pagan ideology. Accounts of Christopher Columbus’s first two voyages introduced not only descriptions of alleged cannibalism among Natives of the Lesser Antilles, but also the word itself which soon identified not only a practice but also a place. The publications of Amerigo Vespucci in 1503-1504 located cannibalism in the region of Brazil; the first printed image of cannibalism in 1505 accompanied an edition of Vespucci’s letter. Brazil became the principle region of focus for most textual and image accounts of the practice throughout the 16th century.
Maps were a unique contributor to developing knowledge about cannibalism among Amerindian cultural groups. The location of cannibalism was noted on the 1502 A. Cantino manuscript and on the 1507 M. Waldseemuller world map in the region of the Lesser Antilles. The 1507 J. Ruysch world map also included a legend about native cultural practices and cannibalism derived from Vespucci’s account. The Kunstmann II manuscript of ~1506 contained the first image (“man on a spit”) of cannibalism on a map. The graphic depiction of cannibalism with an important accompanying legend on the 1516 Carta Marina of Waldseemuller was followed by many others including H. Holbein’s corner design on S. Munster’s world map of 1532, and on Munster’s 1540 map of America.  H. Cortés’s 1524 map of Mexico City reinforced the link between practices of cannibalism and human sacrifice. These Western European accounts and images influenced others in Turkey and Asia who incorporated this second hand knowledge of alleged Amerindian cultural practices into their own cartography.  Piri Reis’s 1513 manuscript included a legend about cannibalism accompanying images of dog headed anthropomorphs and Blemmyes in South America, both presumably representing cannibals. A marvelous Japanese folding screen painted ~1640 contained vivid imagery borrowed from European-authored maps.

In 1570 A. Ortelius’s title page to his Theatrum introduced the first allegorical image of America personified in a hierarchal relationship with the other continents and with a (by now) familiar reference to cannibalism.  Ortelius’s image of America was adopted in the 1603 edition of C. Ripa’s Iconology and appeared in many later prints and paintings well into the 17th century including several splendid wall and folio maps.  These included the world maps of P. Plancius (1596), C. Claesz’s (1600), J. van den Ende (1604), P. van den Keere (1614), S. Scolari (1646), and others.  By the early 18th century the image of cannibalism had largely disappeared from maps and allegorical personifications of America.

With text, toponyms, and images, early maps provided and sustained a spatial understanding of the alleged practice and location of cannibalism from specific regions to the entirety of the New World.  Maps were an important part of Eurocentric discourse about the civility and identity of Amerindian cultural groups.

Biographic Sketch: Jim Walker is a retired physician living in Eugene, Oregon.  He attended Amherst College and Case Western University School of Medicine, served in the USAF and completed his specialty training in Rochester, New York before moving to Eugene where he practiced Nephrology and Internal Medicine for twenty six years.  He retired from medical practice in December, 2003 “while I could still count to ten,” and since then has drawn personal enjoyment and fulfillment from a growing family, community service, extensive travel, and his cartographic avocation. Dr. Walker has been an avid map collector for over thirty years with a primary emphasis on the Pacific Northwest and early nineteenth century Trans- Mississippi West material.  As an amateur researcher he has written several published articles and book reviews and has given many presentations at various meetings of societies whose focus is on historic maps and discovery.  

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