From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Confini coloniali e performatività della carta geografica

Edoardo Boria


Colonial borders and the performativity of the map. By putting together materiality, perception, and intervention on a geographic environment in the same visual representation, the map gives evidence to both the factual and imaginary features of a territory. Thus, the map is a crucial device for interrogating both reality and imagination. But precisely how does the map situate itself between reality and imagination? What kinds of powers does this positioning involve? And who exerts these powers? This article stems from such questions, which are discussed by acknowledging the recent theoretical and empirical advancements in the field of map studies. After introducing new theorisation and research in the field of cartography, the article will engage with an empirical application, namely the cartographic production regarding the Fascist colonial experience. In particular, I will address the case study of Ethiopian borders, which were progressively erased in cartographic products well before Italian settlement. This analysis will offer a paradigmatic case study to show the social climate within which colonial events unfolded, as well as the performances of cartography in the public space opened between collectivity and authority.


cartography, Fascism, borders, colonies, visuality



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