Haunted Cartographies: toward a postcolonial gyne-a-logy of mapmaking

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Recalling Jardine’s definition of ‘gynesis’ (1985) which, etymologically, means ‘woman-process’ as the ‘putting into discourse of “woman”’ and strategically combining it with the Foucauldian sense of genealogy (1979), the aim of this paper is to re-vision and re-envision through the lens of feminist and postcolonial critical theory and visual arts the problematics inherent to what has been named the ‘cartographic reason’ (Farinelli, 2009).As Adrienne Rich once proposed for her writing, by revision I mean the theoretical act ‘of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction’ (1972: 18). The new critical direction I detrimentally encourage is actually a convulsed and provisional path, troubled by maelstrom of questions and multi-layered passages. First, what if map-making were strategically phagocytized (and then regurgitated or digested) as a postcolonial and feminist practice, both theoretically and visually? And if a window could be opened, to where and to whom should be addressed our gaze? In short, is map-making always a ‘rough’ matter of power or is it possible to ethically and politically inhabit the cartographic gaze?In order to better understand the charge of these questions, it is important to sketch a brief contextualization. In the last thirty years, attention from cultural geographers and other critical scholars has lagged in storying the emergency and the systematization of cartography as the ‘evil’ side of the geographical power. Thus, they say, mapmaking has historically played a pivotal role as the master narrative of modernity; maps have been used as one of the weapons of imperialism and nowadays, in its digital transposition, mapping can be portrayed as the new power geometry of neoliberalism. However, the tale of this cartographic anxiety (Gregory 1994) has been told without fully reckoning postcolonial and feminist insights mobilized around notions of epistemology, ontology and the cultural and social practices of map-making. Hence, the intent of this paper is to shed light to this alternative and sideways contribution, perhaps more evident and explored in the field of literary geographies rather than in what I would call ‘visual geographies’. In this sense, oscillating from map-breaking and map-making operations (Huggan 1989), and accepting certain limits defined by the ontology of mapping - both scientific or mundane - ultimately I am going to unpack the very different modes through which postcolonial and female bodies, usually at the edge of the cartographic enterprise, can haunt and infect cartography when they become map-makers.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine15
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016


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