A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

miscellaneous news
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

REPRESENTATIONS OF AFRICA (article first published : 2002-08-25)

An exhibition of the maps of the Don Africana Library is being hosted by the Local History Museums, Heritage Department of the eThekwini Municipality.

Representations of Africa: Four Centuries of Cartography provides an illustration of the development of scientific knowledge and shows how such knowledge was used to further the interests of different groups.

“Is there more than one way of reading a map?” asked Dr Shirley Brooks of the University of Natal in her introduction. “Over the last decade or so, geographers like JB Harley have suggested that it is fruitful to probe beneath the apparent neutrality of scientific maps, so as to see maps as culturally produced documents - texts that reflect power relations within a society.

“This deconstructionist approach to maps allows for a second reading, over and above the obvious information that scientific (“western”) maps provide: distance, location, direction, and so on. Geographers are increasingly interested in the cartographic rhetorics that produce maps - that is, in the inherently political nature of representation through mapping.

“The maps in this collection derive from early European exploration of Africa. During this period, the language of scientific representation was developing as cartographic techniques derived from Ptolemaic geometry were revived and used to facilitate navigation. At the same time, the decorative aspects of mapping were still prominent. This allows us to interrogate the marginalia and symbols for fascinating insights into European views of Africa at the time.”

Dr Brooks’s advice is to begin with the margins. “Look at the decorative aspects of the maps and think about the symbolic language inscribed here,” she states. “The secret codes of historical maps are perhaps easier for us to crack than those of modern maps with their apparent neutrality and absence of political meaning. Think also about the silences on the maps. What is absent? What hierarchies of social organization and expressions of power are reflected in the cartographic symbols used? Viewing cartography as a cultural language cannot fail to offer new perspectives on the fascinating and valuable maps in this collection.”




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart