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This session brings together presenters from different disciplinary and professional backgrounds working with map collections assembled during the European colonial era, with the aim to discuss ways of studying, curating, displaying, improving access to and ultimately decolonising these collections.
This session brings together presenters from different disciplinary and professional backgrounds working with historical map collections, specifically map collections assembled during the European colonial era. The aim of this session is to discuss ways of studying, curating, displaying, improving access to and ultimately decolonising these collections. Beginning with Brian Harley, scholars have described maps created during the time of European colonialism as instruments of power. While undoubtedly true for most European maps, especially those made by official mapping agencies, a much greater variety of maps were produced during that time. Often hybrid in both form and content, a diverse group of actors were involved in the creation of these maps, including Indigenous peoples. When these maps were accessioned into Western collections, they were catalogued according to western conventions, often dividing them up into the simplistic binary of scientific/traditional or European/non-European. The development of relational approaches to material culture, especially in the study of ethnographic museum collections over the last decade, calls for a new approach to Western map collections. This session welcomes speakers and participants from different academic and professional backgrounds so that the greatest possible variety of approaches to colonial map collections can be introduced. Paper proposals addressing the materiality of maps and discussing experiences in curating, displaying, digitising, and collaboratively working with map collections are particularly encouraged.