Lines on a Map: Crafting and Contesting Borders in the Early Modern Atlantic and Beyond, London, 13.12.2019 – 14.12.2019.

For over a century, scholars have wrestled with how to imagine, explain, and convey geographical space. From Frederick Jackson Turner’s chronologically shifting frontier to Fernand Braudel’s integrated Mediterranean basin, from concepts of an ‘Atlantic’ world to arguments for an enduring ‘Red’ North American continent, scholars have offered various models for understanding the interrelationship between space and time, and people and their environments—whether on land-locked interiors, blue water empires, or the bays, estuaries, rivers, and coastlines that connect water and land.

This conference asks participants to analyse their own assumptions about and models of early modern historical spaces by engaging with and interrogating how actors themselves described, drew, and defined geographic spaces—whether discrete urban vistas, vast colonial projects, regional chorographies, interiors unmapped (by Europeans), or ever-changing maritime and riverine waters. The ways in which actors defined scale, bounded their maps and descriptions, imagined the unknown, and projected their own understandings onto spaces provide a rich archive for examining how early modern actors defined and contested space, boundaries, and border-making.

‘Lines on a Map’ will take place at the Institute of Historical Research (London, UK) on December 13th and 14th, 2019 and will offer participants the option of drawing upon the IHR’s North American collections to produce new knowledge about the maps contained inside of them or in related materials, such as the Rolf E. Gooderham collection of historical atlases (https://tinyurl.com/yxohxcnt). The conference will take place alongside a maps exhibit at the IHR. Knowing that some participants, particularly those whose work stretches beyond North America, may already have a map in mind, maps or images from other collections may also be used.

After receiving the materials described below, the organisers, working in consultation with IHR librarians, will then offer to connect accepted participants with access to a high-resolution image of a map or image from the IHR collections. Potential attendees are encouraged to browse the IHR collections (http://www.history.ac.uk/library), or to contact Matthew Shaw, IHR Librarian (Matthew.Shaw@sas.ac.uk), for additional guidance on locating relevant images. Participants will use their chosen image or map as the touch-stone of their papers and as a tool to think through and ground their analysis about early modern borders and modern historiographical models of historical space.

The co-organisers (Dr Rachel Herrmann, Cardiff University, and Dr Jessica Roney, Temple University) envision diverse formats for conference participation including but not limited to pre-circulated papers for extended discussion, roundtables, and standard formal conference presentations. Several of our committed participants are senior scholars willing to workshop pre-circulated essays by early career scholars. The co-organizers warmly welcome suggestions for innovative paper formats and sessions. Interested participants should send the following to Rachel Herrmann (HerrmannR@cardiff.ac.uk) by August 1st, 2019:

– A short CV

– 250-word proposal including a description of the topics that interest you, the books, atlases, or sheet maps that have thus far inspired your research, and an indication of possible geography-related print materials that may inform your presentation for this conference. If you have a specific map or book in mind known to be available through the IHR, please indicate which item(s) may be of interest.

– One sentence indicating preferred format for your presentation (including, but not limited to formal conference presentation, pre-circulated paper, roundtable). If you are open to more than one format, please let us know, in order, your preference.

This workshop is the final of three in a series devoted to ‘Geographies of Power on Land and Water’, made possible by a Networking Scheme Grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (United Kingdom) and participates in an ongoing scholarly conversation about space, borders, and power in the early modern world. This conference invites participants to continue a conversation about the landed and aquatic frontiers of borderlands and maritime history in the early modern period to investigate in a broadly comparative framework how actors defined, defied, and took advantage of borders, be they on land or on water. The co-investigators seek to build upon the three conferences to consolidate and expand the network going forward. At least one edited volume is envisaged.

About the Institute of Historical Research (IHR)
The IHR is the UK’s national centre for the study of history, providing research resources, events, training, and connecting historians working in varied contexts and fields across the UK and beyond. Questions of place, identity and mapping are central to many of the projects based in the IHR, from the Victoria County History of England (founded 1899), to more recent initiatives which produce and explore maps in innovative ways, such as the Heritage Lottery-funded ‘Layers of London’ digital history project. Many of these projects and research foci are now brought together in the IHR’s new Centre for the History of People, Place and Community. The IHR Wohl Library is a reference collection of published primary sources covering the history of Western Europe and its colonial history from the fifth century to the present. Its British and European collections are complemented by rich North American collections (such as the Albert Gallatin collection) and the unique Rolf E. Gooderham collection of historical atlases. The IHR is on Twitter at @IHR_history.




Rachel Herrmann
Email: HerrmannR@cardiff.ac.uk