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The Cartographic Assemblage of the Globe

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It is common practice to consider global space a coherent entity that naturally contains social practices and provides the stage for actors of global politics. Yet, such a view ignores the social process of establishing a global space as a framework for other social practices. This paper suggests that an analysis of cartographic practices is key to understand the historical formation of spaces. Drawing on Bruno Latour, I show how the globe has been assembled through cartographic practices in Europe from 1450-1650. I trace how the emerging discipline of cosmography transformed knowledge of the world, and how the Spanish attempts to map the world during the 16th century put in place a system to cartographically establish a new reality of global space. Finally, the paper focuses on how the world was published by Dutch map makers which disseminated this novel global reality and, in effect, made it mobile. This leads to the conclusion that the global map preceded, and assembled, the globe as a unified abstract space enabling the expansion of European political and economic practices.

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Jeppe Strandsbjerg

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