Image detail taken from Vernunfftmässige Beschribung der Erd-Kugel. Theodor Schoon. Zürich: c. 1690. Image courtesy of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich.

Image featured in Luca Scholz's "Mapping Airspace: On the Visual Imagination of the Atmosphere" exhibit here.


When mapping on a global scale, the line between factual and fictitious landscape quickly blurs. The speakers of Mapping the Global Imaginary, 1500—1900, a conference held at Stanford's David Rumsey Map Center on February 14-15, 2019, cross this blurry boundary into every continent, as well as purely speculative ones, to share a host of cartographic enterprises. From the imaginary Kobitojima Island propagated by Edo cartographers to the armchair geography seeking to define colonial Africa, to efforts at mapping airspace itself, topics probe the extent and diversity of challenge and license inherent in mapmaking from a (cognitive) distance.

Sumathi Ramaswamy, the James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of History at Duke University, presented the keynote address, "Going Artfully Global". The conference's panel speakers curated an exhibition which is the basis for this website. The conference schedule is here and the first panel, "Filling in the Blanks", begins here.