Hiram Bingham in the footsteps of Simón Bolívar, from Caracas to Bogota, 1906-1907
online, Denver, USA
Discovery by historians is often imagined as solitary work in archives and libraries. An alternate model of field research takes archival research as a starting point. This talk explores the practice of a young professor of Spanish American history, Hiram Bingham, best known for publicizing Incan archaeology, on his first ‘expedition’ to South America, in 1906 and 1907, for a two-part mapping project. Bingham proposed to map key battles of Venezuelan independence leader Simón Bolívar and to determine whether, as Spanish American historians claimed, following an impassable road across Venezuela and Colombia was as wonderful as the more famous marches of Hannibal and Napoleon [over the Alps]. Between developing his hypothesis and disseminating his conclusions, the Bingham case allows us to consider the intersections between history, travel and cartography at the beginning of the 20th century.
Jordana Dym is Professor of History and Director of Latin American and Latinx Studies at Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY). Her research interests include Spanish American independence, Atlantic revolutions, and the histories of cartography and travel. Forthcoming works include Mapping Travel: The Origins and Conventions of Western Journey Maps (Brill 2021) and, with Carla Lois, Bound images: maps, books and reading in material and digital contexts, Word & Image (2021). Additional information is available at https://skidmore.academia.edu/JordanaDym.