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Enlightening maps: a celebration of 25 years of TOSCA – The Oxford Seminars in Cartography

Oxford, UK
In twenty-five years of lectures and field trips TOSCA has called attention to the enlightening power of maps. The series has shown how maps were co-opted into Enlightenment projects as tools for rational enquiry and the implementation of 'improvements'. We have seen maps as part of Enlightenment science – used by individuals, institutions, and governments to understand, demarcate, control, codify information about, and change the lands under their jurisdiction.
The power of maps to open up lands, seas, peoples, and the rest of the natural world to the questing gaze of the outsider has been a constant TOSCA theme. TOSCA seminars have also interrogated maps dating from before and after the Enlightenment but which shed light on phenomena and connections between them. TOSCA audiences have seen how – on the wall of the schoolroom, in the wartime operations room, in the hands of the traveller, in the mark-up room of the newspaper editor, in the cabinet of the scholar, or on the laptop of the engineer – maps shape our understanding of the world, ourselves, and our place in the world. Though TOSCA seminars have amply demonstrated that maps can be tools of the elite and powerful, they have also uncovered mapping undertaken by the ostensibly powerless, as revealing exercise in citizen science, and as a means for those with radical, subversive, or countercultural agendas to enlighten audiences about the nature of elites.
To celebrate 25 years of TOSCA's cartographic explorations an all day symposium and map display will be held in TOSCA's home, the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Presenters will join invited speakers Danny Dorling, University of Oxford, Peter Barber, formerly Head of Maps at the British Library, and Mike Parker, author of Map Addict.
Contact: Nick Millea