Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Lecture Series - Map Making Across Cultures

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Guest speakers in International Studies and History consider visual representations of empire and intercultural relationships.

This year the International Studies program, and the Departments of History and Art History combined resources  to host a series of three lectures focused on the theme: “Map-Making Across Cultures.” Each of the three talks analyzed spatial representations that cross cultural boundaries, either in their construction or in their use.

The first speaker, Dr. Laura Mitchell (U California at Irvine), presented her talk, titled, “Watercolors and World History: Art in the Service of Empire” on Thursday, Oct. 27. Mitchell’s talk examined the case of an eighteenth-century French military engineer who produced a watercolor of the Cape of Good Hope. Dr. Mitchell showed how that image speaks of a larger historical moment in which one individual’s viewpoint can offer insight into the nature of empire and intercultural relationships.

The second speaker in the series, Dr. Laura Hostetler (U of Illinois at Chicago) presented her talk, titled “Chinese Cartographic Practices and Frontier Politics”, on Nov. 10. She examined how the Qing (pronounced Ching) Dynasty produced scientific (cartographic) maps as part of their imperial expansion and their connection to an international community, and how such maps are diametrically opposed to regional maps that continued to be produced at that time.

The final speaker, Dr. Eduardo Douglas (U North Carolina at Chapel Hill), presented his talk, titled “History and Rhetoric in the Quinatzin Map of Circa 1542”, on Nov. 17. Douglas’ work examines the manuscript tradition from Central Mexico and how this particular map coordinates the visual information to both indigenous (Nahua) and Spanish interests.

The lecture series, which Southwestern organizes every other year, invites experts in the three geographic areas represented by our program to address issues related to one or more of our program’s disciplinary majors. It is important because it gives students insight into the methods and resources that are available in various disciplines, which form a core of campus activity and the International Studies Program. In addition to showing cutting-edge research that reaches into and beyond the classroom, the lectures provide perspective on cultural interaction in ways that are relevant to the world today.

International Studies is an interdisciplinary program, and one of its goals in hosting the lecture series is to draw attention to the two main aspects of the degree: a concentration in a geographic area of the world (East Asia, Latin America or Europe), and a disciplinary “home” (Art History, History, and Political Science; Anthropology if based in Latin America).