Kara Westhoven


Approaches to cartographic history have largely centered around a Cartesian perspective of space and a masculine tradition that celebrated the domination and exploration of new lands. This paper, instead, assesses the ways in which women have successful inserted themselves into this cartographic practice. By examining American women’s use of maps, from tools for education and early nation building, to nineteenth-century biographical resources, and as promotional visuals of the suffrage movement, it becomes clear that women have utilized maps, geography, and cartographic vocabulary in unconventional ways throughout history. Maintaining critical perspective of feminist cartography also allows for identification of the oversight and exclusion of marginalized groups of women. This study of historic cartographic practices culminates in discussion of modern feminist geography and its efforts to represent women’s diverse relations to space. In tracing the historical patterns of women’s participation in cartography, as well as their contemporary implications, we find that women have subverted a traditional masculine narrative of space in a variety of ways.



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