Printing the Map, Making a Difference: Mapping the Cape of Good Hope, 1488–1652

Jerry Brotton

in Geography and Revolution

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780226487335
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226487359 | DOI:
Printing the Map, Making a Difference: Mapping the Cape of Good Hope, 1488–1652

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This chapter seeks to examine how early printed geography responded to cultural contact and encounter, and to analyze the ways in which printed maps constructed an anthropology of subject peoples through close interaction with written texts dealing with issues of travel, diplomacy, and trade. Benedict Anderson's highly influential Imagined Communities (1983) developed Eisenstein's argument a step further by examining how “print capitalism” created the linguistic and philosophical conditions for the emergence of what he calls the “national imagined community” across the long sweep of European modernity. Building on Anderson's ideas about the development of European mercantilism in relation to print, the chapter suggests that early printed maps interacted with travel, diplomacy, and trade to construct a discourse of cultural difference and “otherness” that is definably different from the ways in which manuscript culture constructed cultural difference. It presents a specific case study of how European contact with one particular space on the map of the early modern world shows how the development of print defines a shift in European understandings of cultural difference.

Keywords: maps; cultural contact; mercantilism; cultural difference; European modernity; print capitalism; anthropology

Chapter.  8223 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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