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Carlson Presents on Mapping and Contemporary African Art
Amanda Carlson, assistant professor of art history, A&S, presented the paper "Putting Africa on the Map: New Views of the Global Village," at the African Studies Association's 55th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on Nov. 30.
The theme of the conference was "Research Frontiers in the Study of Africa." Carlson's paper contributed to the panel "More Than The Questions We Ask: Methods, Disciplinary Practices, and Narratives about Art."
What questions do we ask of maps? And, what can maps tell us? Because we tend to think of maps as objective, scientific depictions of geographic elements, we are all too ready to ignore the power of maps. However, maps do not just represent pre-existing territories, they also create them. In the 21st century, the role of geography in the processes of conceptualizing space and place has increased importance in African art studies. Maps simultaneously address both ontology (the study of being, what types of entities of African visual culture exist in the world) and epistemology (the study of knowing, studying what knowledge is and how it is possible, how we go creating knowledge about African art). This paper considers the relationship between maps, artists, and scholars with an approach that is based upon the distinction between “the map as object” and "the map as method." Central to this conversation, with maps and about maps, is the work of artists from Africa and the diaspora who are contributing to the expanding genre of “map art,” graphic depictions that utilize cartographic techniques.