Writing History with Maps: Border Areas of Northern New Spain (15th to 18th Centuries / Mexico-USA 19th Century)

Amaia Cabranes

Whereas it has been widely agreed that maps are an essential source for historians, there is no doubt that cartographic representations also constitute a means and a medium for writing history. In this sense, I intend to explore to what extent and how cartography has contributed to the writing of the history of the border spaces of the north of New Spain (16th-18th Centuries), later crystallized in the Mexican-USA border (19th Century). What stories do the maps of these “marginal” spaces tell? How are they told? By whom and for what purpose? What role did cartography play in the construction of the notion of “border”  - long before it became a separating line between the two States - as well as the process of colonial, and later state, territorialization of these regions. Are there any counter-mapping? Individual and / or collective memories of the borders recorded in maps? In the context of spectacular development of digital humanities in recent decades – which has transformed our working methods-, working in situ, at the David Rumsey Map Center consulting maps in-person, is essential; all the more that this research project aims to highlight the importance of maps as material objects, to question their functions, circulation, modes of production and reception, as well as those who made them.


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