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Title: Representations of Amerindians on European maps and the construction of ethnographic knowledge, 1506-1624
Author: Davies, Surekha Sirimalee
ISNI:       0000 0000 7477 2637
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University of London
Date of Award: 2009
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Images of Amerindians on European maps were often distinctive to the regions they were believed to inhabit. The result of complex interactions between source materials, interpretative traditions, and the commercial and political concerns of mapmakers and their audiences, these illustrations distilled and reformulated ethnographic knowledge mainly disseminated through travellers' accounts. They therefore provide evidence of how eye-witness observations were adapted to new visual contexts. The regions are considered in the order in which their inhabitants appeared on maps produced in Portugal, Seville, Normandy, German-speaking cities around the Rhine, Antwerp and Amsterdam. The first section, after surveying cartographic practices and workshops, explores two textual traditions which help to understand how images of Amerindians were read at the time: discussions of headless men, giants and similar creatures within the Plinian framework of monstrous peoples; and reflections on human diversity, drawing on contemporary notions of savagery and civility. The second section considers two contrasting portrayals of Brazilians. Mapmakers amalgamated testimony about several Caribbean and Brazilian peoples to construct representations of cannibals, while omitting peaceful activities which were equally prevalent in travel literature. Norman maps were an exception, picturing peaceful Tupinamba-French encounters. The third section examines cartographic depictions of physically 'monstrous' figures: Patagonian giants; and Amazons and headless men in Guiana. These are considered in connection with sources such as Maximilianus Transylvanus's De Moluccis insulis (1523) and Walter Ralegh's Discoverte a/Guiana (1596). Maps published by Hondius the Elder, Cornelis Claesz and Pieter van den Keere receive particular attention. The fourth section studies indicators of civility such as towns which featured in images of the peoples of Peru, Virginia and Florida. It concludes with wall maps by Hondius the Elder and Willem Blaeu, illustrating distinctions between different Amerindians, their place within humanity as a whole and the impact of De Bry's America series.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available