23 September 2020, 19:00 – 21:00 SGT

What are the fields of production, reproduction and use in which historical maps circulate?

This session invites historians of cartography to reflect on the production, reproduction and circulations of maps, past and present, with specific reference to the mapping of Southeast Asia.

Chair: Prof Tan Tai Yong, President, Yale-NUS College
Professor of Humanities (History)

Prof Matthew Edney
Professor of Geography, Osher  Professor in the History of Cartography
University of Southern Maine
Director of the History of Cartography Project
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The facsimile and the formation of map history

The circulation of maps in their myriad forms, rather than the circulation of spatial information in the abstract, is the key to understanding mapping processes: circulation interconnects producers with consumers in precise networks of spatial communication. This paper explores this phenomenon with respect to the role of facsimiles of early maps in the formation of the particular scholarly discourse of “the history of cartography” in the mid-nineteenth century and the limited significance within that discourse of the history of the mapping of southeastern Asia.


Prof Robert K Batchelor
Professor of History and Director of Digital Humanities
Georgia Southern University
Reframing Southeast Asia: from the photostat to the digital map 

Historians of cartography have yet to seriously grapple with the twentieth century impact of the use of photostats and other forms of machine reproduction on defining the discipline in the twentieth century.  This talk explores the motives and methods behind the surprisingly early collection of photostat copies of historical maps of Southeast Asia by J.V. Mills at the Raffles Library in Singapore (since 1960 the National Library) in tandem with the first government archive in 1932. Then in the post-war period, Mills in London in conjunction with Joseph Needham, Leo Bagrow (Imago Mundi) and Arthur Hummel (Library of Congress) used photostat collections to establish a basis for comparative Chinese cartography in both the pre- and post-1600 period (i.e. before and after Ricci).  At one level, maps as digital objects merely continue the comparative project of the photostat, moving between old metropoles and formerly colonial spaces on a much larger scale and with higher speeds and resolutions.  At another level, rediscovered and newly digitized manuscript maps from the early modern period such as the Selden Map of China at the Bodleian or the Chinese Coastal Charts at Yale have begun to open up new kinds of cultural and technical questions about how cartography has framed definitions of Southeast Asia.


About the speakers

Matthew Edney is an expert in map history. He is the author of Mapping an Empire: The Geographical Construction of British India, 1765-1843 (1997), Cartography: Its Ideal and his History (2019) and co-editor of Cartography in the European Enlightenment (2019) Volume Four of The History of Cartography, edited by myself and Mary Pedley. He is the “faculty scholar” for the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education (USM) and, since 2005, he has directed the History of Cartography Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Robert K. Batchelor holds a doctorate in Philosophy and is the author of The Selden Map and the Making of a Global City, 1549-1687 (2014) with research interests in Modern Britain, Early Modern East Asia and Pacific, History of Games, and the History of Cartography. His current enterprise is a digital project with World History Gazetteer, involving the historical mapping of ocean currents and early modern shipping routes in the Pacific.

Professor Tan Tai Yong is the current President of Yale-NUS College where he is also a Professor in the Humanities Division. He works on South and Southeast Asian History having researched and written on the Sikh diaspora, civil military relations, the social and political history of colonial Punjab, the partition of South Asia, and the history of Singapore. He has authored and co-authored several books such as Seven Hundred Years – A History of Singapore (2019), Creating Greater Malaysia: The Politics of Merger (2008), and The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia (2001).