17th Nebenzahl Lectures: Mapping the Transition from Colony to Nation

Thursday, November 4, 2010Saturday, November 6, 2010
Kenneth Nebenzahl, Jr., Lecture Series

The struggle of peoples worldwide for independence from colonial domination was one of the most important geopolitical events of the twentieth century, though the history of decolonization did not, of course, start in 1900. It may be traced at least as far back as the American revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and might include the nineteenth-century nationalist movements for independence in Eastern Europe, before reaching a climax in Africa, Asia, and Oceania after the Second World War. Like all modern geopolitical events, this struggle includes an important cartographic dimension. Imperial powers (as we have seen in a previous Nebenzahl Lectures series) used maps to understand their colonies, to conquer them, to rule them, to shape public opinion about their domination of these colonies both at home and abroad. This series examined how specific peoples and states emerging from colonization used maps to define, defend, and administer their national territories; to develop their national identities; and to establish their place in the community of nations.

List of Speakers

  • Raymond Craib (Cornell University), “Introduction: Mapping Decolonization and Nation in the Twentieth Century”
  • Magali Carrera (University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth), “Entangled Spaces: Colonial Mappings in Eighteenth-Century New Spain”
  • Lina del Castillo (John Carter Brown Library fellow), “Traveling Maps, Frustrated Creole Desires, and the Reconfiguration of Imperial Designs: The Case of the Gran Colombian Mapping Commission, 1819-1830”
  • Jordana Dym (Skidmore College), “Democratizing the Map: Between Imperial and National Mapping in Guatemala, 1821-2010”
  • Tom Bassett (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), “Signs of the Times: Commercial Road Mapping and National Identity in South Africa”
  • Jamie McGowan (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), “Mapping Independence in Ghana: Scientific Standards and Political Possibilities”
  • Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University), “Lines of Power, Contours of Desire: The Partitioning of Lands and Lives in Our Times”
  • Karen Culcasi (West Virginia University), “Cartographic Constructions of the Modern Egyptian Nation-State”


The Nebenzahl Lectures are made possible through the generous support of Ken and Jossy Nebenzahl, as they have been since 1966.