Mission/s/Kartographie: Funktionen, visuelle Strategien, Wissenstransfer (1500–1800)

Irina Pawlowsky, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen; Fabian Fechner, FernUniversität in Hagen; Ariane Koller, Universität Bern; Christoph Mauntel, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen); Graduiertenkolleg 1662 “Religiöses Wissen im vormodernen Europa (800-1800), Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
04.11.2016 - 05.11.2016
Laura Dierksmeier, Graduiertenkolleg 1662: Religiöses Wissen im vormodernen Europa (800-1800), Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Historians, Art Historians, and Sinologists gathered in Tübingen to deliberate whether or not maps originating from different missionary contexts had specific common characteristics. Spanning from Latin America to China, India and Africa, the political and religious strategies of mapmaking were analyzed in conjunction with techniques of geographical knowledge generation, map production, and the use of symbology. In their introduction, IRINA PAWLOWSKY (Tübingen) and FABIAN FECHNER (Hagen) discussed pertinent research questions, including: How was indigenous knowledge incorporated into mapmaking? What was the function of missionary maps inside and outside the mission? How were missionary worldviews incorporated into these maps? How were failures in the mission itself and geographical mistakes handled? How do maps and other documents, such as travel logs, natural histories, or coordinate tables, relate to one another?

MICHAEL MANN (Berlin) focused on the Tranquebar mission in southern India (current-day Tamil Nadu), debating the multidimensional functions of maps as commercial products, as documents of orientation, and as aesthetic renditions of pacified or untamed spaces. Based on sources from the Franckesche Stiftungen in Halle, Mann considered twenty-five maps and town plans from the Indian subcontinent. In connection with the Danish King Frederick IV, and with support from the London based Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, Pietists from Halle undertook mapmaking as part of their missionary work. Mann combined missionary reports, academic literature, and literary writings to draw conclusions on the functions and significance of cartography in eighteenth-century Tranquebar.

AMREI BUCHHOLZ (Hamburg) examined Jesuit cartography in the province of Paraquaria (1604-1767/68) with respect to the order’s strategies of self-positioning. On the frontispiece of the eighteenth-century Jesuit missionary publication “Der Neue Welt-Bott,” Buchholz highlighted the representation of the continents as landmasses that could fit together like pieces of a puzzle. The potential harmony of “Christian souls” was geographically represented in a map where Europe had partly lost its central position in favor of a reconciled global oikumene. Comparing two further maps from Jesuit missionary publications of the same time period, Buchholz showed that also local mapping of the missions was used by the Jesuits to create strong political arguments, which promoted the order’s aims.

Examining the Maynas mission in the Amazon region of South America, IRINA PAWLOWSKY scrutinized the production, function, and reception of Jesuit cartography in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Analyzing a map that was published 1785 as part of a report by the former missionary Franz Xaver Veigel, Pawlowsky demonstrated the use of ethnographic information, religious order boundary lines, and geographic borders, where missionaries “put order into unordered space.” For example, the initials “NB” (meaning “Natio Indorum barbara”) were repeatedly used to identify territories of pagan peoples as “untamed” or “barbarous,” whereas Christian people were associated with a sedentary way of life in the so called “reducciones” of the Jesuits. Boundary lines divided Jesuits from Franciscans, as well as Spanish territory from Portuguese domain. Gaps in border lines represented a potential for future expansion, where additional missions could be established. With the quote by John B. Harley, “there is no such thing as an empty space on a map”)[1], Pawlowsky introduced a debate which would reoccur throughout the workshop: Do blank spaces on maps represent simply the unknown or yet another propagandistic function of missionary cartography?

With an examination of a 1655 map by Jesuit Martino Martini, TOBIAS WINNERLING (Düsseldorf) considered the complexity of interpreting missionary cartography alongside in-depth explanations of the maps found in the “Novus Atlas Sinesis.” Winnerling traced the cartographic education of Martini to provide background information on the mapmaker and his work, stressing his incorporation of also Chinese sources. The various functions the “Novus Atlas Sinesis” took on in Europe were also considered, as copies had not been sent back to Rome for the Pope, although editions were published in Latin and German in Amsterdam in 1655. Winnerling engaged scholars on the open question of Jesuit symbology, which did not accurately represent the converted regions on the map. Workshop participants subsequently discussed possible reasons (intentional and unintentional) for this discrepancy.

Based on more than six years of research, MARIO CAMS (Macau) presented his project on the Kangxi-atlas (1718-21), a multi-sheet map of 41 pages. Although the map was kept in separate sheets, when pieced together as Cams had done digitally, the sheets created a map measuring 4.5x3 meters. After an overview of Jesuit mapmaking in China, from Matteo Ricci to Michele Ruggieri to Ferdinand Verbiest, Cams explained elements specific to the Kangxi-atlas and the Quing state. After demonstrating the unique lack of external border lines, Cams showed the distinction between representations north and south of the Great Wall, where only locations south of the Wall were named in Chinese. Cams also examined land surveying techniques, previously assumed to be European. Instead, he argued that Chinese local informants and Chinese mapmaking techniques were employed to calculate longitude and latitude. French Jesuits were in fact the minority in the large teams of land surveyors, led by Chinese experts and sometimes even the Emperor himself.

Analyzing the map of Egypt by Jesuit Claude Sicard, RENATE DÜRR (Tübingen) exhibited another form of missionary cartography, where biblical knowledge was represented in geographical space. Printed in section twenty of the “Neue Welt Bott,” Claude’s map depicted the Old Testament Exodus route of the ancient Israelites from Egypt into Canaan. Dürr argued that Claude’s map was part of a larger eighteenth-century debate over the theoretical possibility of biblical narratives. After discussing Claude’s background, his entry into the Jesuit order, and his cartographic training, Dürr highlighted how empirical knowledge, such as measurements of the ebb and flow of the Nile, calculations on the width of mountain passes, and estimations of the amount of drinking water were used to argue for the possibility of the Exodus. Through the interconnections between scientific and religious knowledge, Dürr demonstrated how forms of knowledge production and knowledge transfer were incorporated into missionary cartography, and through subsequent publications, transferred into larger European debates.

RENÉ SMOLARSKI (Erfurt) presented his research on the nineteenth-century missionary cartography connected to the publishing house Justus Perthes in Gotha. Smolarski exhibited representations of missionary names on maps, examining map compilation data of 531 maps to show, for example, that the largest number of missionaries depicted in 1871 were working in Africa. The funds missionaries collected for their expeditions were considered in connection to the function of mapmaking. In addition, Smolarski studied the specific geographical training that missionaries received alongside their religious training. Through an analysis of missionary networks, Smolarski drew conclusions on the reception, production, and circulation of missionary knowledge. Smolarski also considered the significance of the terms “mission cartography,” and “missionary cartography,” to discuss specificities that may separate this form and function of mapmaking from other contemporary maps.

FABIAN FECHNER analyzed the cartography of Heinrich Scherer, printed in 1703 as the “Geographia Hierarchica.” Scherer’s maps depicted missions and religious iconography, although he was not himself a missionary, but a professor of Hebrew and Mathematics. From studying the 120 maps in the “Geographia Hierarchica,” Fechner emphasized the mathematical geography, symbology, landscape, architectural representations, political commentary, and biblical quotes on the world maps. On one map, the Christian spreading of religion could be traced palpably, as regions with “the light of God” were displayed lighter than not-yet-converted regions shown in grey shadows. As Fechner demonstrated, dominion was in some maps represented not by political boundaries, but by religious affiliation. On another map, important sixteenth-century Jesuits, such as the founder of the order, Ignatius Loyola, as well as Patriarch of Ethiopia, Jesuit Andrés de Oviedo, and Francisco Xavier, Basque co-founder of the Society of Jesus enframed the geographical data.

In their commentaries on the workshop presentations, CHRISTOPH MAUNTEL (Tübingen) and ARIANE KOLLER (Bern) emphasized overlapping structures seen throughout the presentations, as well as open questions for future research. Corresponding themes included knowledge transfer, hybrid map production processes relying on local insight, missionaries as part of the Republic of Letters, and the relationship between the intention of missionary maps and the reception of those maps by different actors. Functions of the maps included orientation, description, visualization of religious and political presence, propaganda, biblical critique, and networking. Yet, as Koller highlighted, those attributes were also germane to many other forms of cartography. Thus, scrutiny of additional archival sources would prove advantageous for further analysis of missionary cartography. Open questions, which merit future research, included: which role did editors and publishers play in the production of mapmaking? How were maps evidence of complex processes of negotiation? How can we trace plurality of authorship? Which visual strategies were employed to meet the intentions of the author, and which representational purposes changed roles depending on their audiences? How can maps be proof of self-reflective aspects, such as the knowledge and function sought of the missionary cartographer?

Conference Overview:

Michael Mann: Die Tranquebar Mission und die Kartographie Südindiens im 18. Jahrhundert

Amrei Buchholz: Jesuitische Repräsentationsstrategien in der Kartographie Paraquarias

Irina Pawlowsky: Missionsräume am Amazonas: Produktion, Funktion und Rezeption jesuitischer Kartographie im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert

Christoph Mauntel: Commentary

Tobias Winnerling: Martino Martini: Die Societas Jesu im Novus Atlas Sinensis (1655)

Mario Cams: The Kangxi-atlas or ‘Overview Maps of Imperial Territories’ (1718-21): A Jesuit Atlas of China?

Renate Dürr: Kartographierte Wunder: Claude Sicard S.J. (1677-1726) und seine Ägyptenkarten

René Smolarski: Die Bedeutung missionskartographischer Arbeiten für die geographische Verlagsanstalt Justus Perthes in Gotha

Fabian Fechner: Missionskartographie als thematische Kartographie: Heinrich Scherers „Geographia Hierarchica“ (1703)

Ariane Koller: Commentary

[1] John B. Harley, Secrecy and Silences: The Hidden Agenda of State Cartography in Early Modern Europe, in: Imago Mundi 40,1 (1988), pp. 57–76.

Tagungsbericht: Mission/s/Kartographie: Funktionen, visuelle Strategien, Wissenstransfer (1500–1800), 04.11.2016 – 05.11.2016 Tübingen, in: H-Soz-Kult, 28.01.2017, <www.hsozkult.de/conferencereport/id/tagungsberichte-6953>.