Angelo Cattaneo

Angelo Cattaneo's picture
Visiting Professor in East Asian Studies (January - December 2024)
National Research Council of Italy; Istituto di Storia del’Europa Mediterranea
Areas of interest : 
Cartographic Arts of the Early Modern Period; Intersection of Japanese Mapping and Portolan Practices and the Iberian Navigational World


EAST 508, HSAR 612

Mapping Asia: A World-History Perspective (13th – 18th Centuries)

Maps and mapping processes have become multilayered and transdisciplinary objects of study and analysis. Long considered and evaluated exclusively as objective scientific tools par excellence, in recent decades they have undergone a profound reconceptualization that has accentuated their being primarily devices of cultural interpretation framed in specific contexts of political, religious, colonial, social, and economic power. This stratification makes maps and mapping operations particularly interesting objects of historical analysis that have generated interest in many fields of knowledge, conveying perspectives, knowledge, interests, and worldviews through a combination of visuality and writing. These specific “intentionalities” aim to make an impact on the communities and societies they address: by representing worlds, they create worlds. It is these intentionalities that the course aims to bring out, study and analyze, particularly in the context of Asia, which has been mapped very precociously and has been a very important area of investigation and exploration by foreign travelers. Asia occupies a central place in the imagined geography of cartographers, as maps have been a fundamental tool that has shaped the continent, its self-perception, and its understanding of the world. Special attention is given to early modern mapping processes and cartography, from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. This period became a turning point in the way both European and Asian cartographers saw their regions and represented them, also giving rise to cartographic productions that complemented or juxtaposed their knowledge systems. The circulation of knowledge and visual cultures among cartographers from both macro-regions, with a focus on Japan and China, is a focus of the course. The analysis of the cartographic construction of Asia and its regions is integrated with a world history– research perspective, from classical to modern times, spanning the cultures of Asia, Europe and Islamic Africa, in turn examined through the maps that different cultures made of their own worlds. Students also have the opportunity to analyze a selection of historical maps in the Beinecke Library collections to discover how maps have variously embodied cultural lenses, religious beliefs, scientific discoveries, and political concerns.

Term: Spring 2024
Day/Time: W 1:30 PM - 3:20 PM