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Week 5: Mapping an Empire

Seminar Questions

  • Why did the colonial state produce printed maps of India?
  • Who used these maps, and to what ends?
  • What role did Indians play in the production and reception of cartographic knowledge?
  • What changes do you see in maps of India printed between the 1700s and 1900s?

Seminar Readings

** Rennell, James, Memoir of a Map of Hindoostan (1792, London), 2nd Edition, i-xviii, 65-111, ‘The Countries Situated between the Source of the Ganges and the Caspian Sea’, ‘General View of the Principal Roads and Divisions of Hindoostan’, and ‘Map of Hindoostan’

* Edney, Matthew, Mapping an Empire: The Geographical Construction of British India, 1765-1843 (Chicago, IL, 1997), 1-36

Additional Readings


A wide range of maps of India, from the 1700s to the 1900s, can be found through the following online collections:


Barrow, Ian, ‘India for the Working Classes: The Maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge’, Modern Asian Studies, 38 (2004)

Edney, Mathew, ‘Bringing India to Hand: Mapping an Empire, Denying Space’, in Felicity Nussbaum (ed.), The Global Eighteenth Century (Baltimore, MA, 2005)

Edney, Matthew, Mapping an Empire: The Geographical Construction of British India, 1765-1843 (Chicago, IL, 1997)

Harley, J. B., ‘Deconstructing the Map’, Cartographica, 26 (1989)

Harley, J. B, The New Nature of Maps: Essays in the History of Cartography (Baltimore, MA, 2002)

Harley, J. B. and David Woodward (eds), Cartography in the Traditional Islamic and South Asian Societies, The History of Cartography (Chicago, IL, 1992), vol. 2, book 1

Raj, Kapil, Relocating Modern Science: Circulation and the Construction of Knowledge in South Asia and Europe, 1650-1900 (Basingstoke, 2007)

Ramaswamy, Sumathi, ‘Catastrophic Cartographies: Mapping the Lost Continent of Lemuria’, Representations, 67 (1999)

Ramaswamy, Sumathi, ‘Conceit of the Globe in Mughal Visual Practice’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 49 (2007)

Ramaswamy, Sumathi, ‘Maps, Mother/Goddesses, and Martyrdom in Modern India’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 67 (2008)

Ramaswamy, Sumathi, ‘Visualising India’s Geo-Body: Globes, Maps, Bodyscapes’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 36 (2002)

Simpson, Thomas, ‘“Clean out of the Map”: Knowing and Doubting Space at India’s High Imperial Frontiers’, History of Science, 55 (2017)

Zou, David Vumlallian and M. Satish Kumar, ‘Mapping a Colonial Borderland: Objectifying the Geo-Body of India’s Northeast’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 70, (2011)

Seminar Powerpoint

Powerpoint - Week 5

Seminar Handout

Handout - Week 5

Seminar Maps

Seminar Maps Sheet - Week 5