Changing Conceptions of the Indian Ocean Revealed Through Maps with Chet Van Duzer

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Mon 6 May


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Discovery Lounge - Ground Floor

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In this lecture, map expert Chet Van Duzer will examine changing ideas about the Indian Ocean from classical antiquity to the eighteenth century, focusing on how those changes are reflected in maps. The primary focus is on European cartography, but Islamic and East Asian maps will also be addressed.  

Chet will examine the breakdown of the Ptolemaic idea that the Indian Ocean was enclosed by land, and the opening of the Portuguese route around Africa to India. The othering conception of the distant (from Europe) Indian Ocean as being a particular locus for sea monsters will be explored. Chet will examine how cartography by the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and English shows their attempts to gain power in the Indian Ocean. French developments of new and shorter routes by which to reach India and the Red Sea in the eighteenth century will be explored as a significant moment in cartography of the Indian Ocean. 

Discover rare and precious maps held by collections around the world as well as treasures from the State Library’s map collections as Chet takes you on a tour of Indian Ocean cartography. 

Chet Van Duzer is visiting Australia for the ARC funded project ‘Mobilising Dutch East India Company collections for new global stories’ (ARC LP210300960) and this special lecture is presented in partnership with the University of Western Australia and the State Library of Western Australia.

Chet Van Duzer

Chet Van Duzer is a historian of cartography and a board member of the Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester, which brings multispectral imaging (a technology for recovering information from damaged manuscripts) to cultural institutions around the world. He has published extensively on medieval and Renaissance maps; his recent books include Henricus Martellus’s World Map at Yale (c. 1491): Multispectral Imaging, Sources, and Influence, published by Springer in 2019, and Martin Waldseemüller’s Carta marina of 1516: Study and Transcription of the Long Legends, published by Springer in 2020. His book Frames that Speak: Cartouches on Early Modern Maps was just published by Brill in open access. His current project is on self-portraits by cartographers that appear on maps.

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