Washington DC 2017



28 – 30 June, 2017


In conjunction with the 28th International Cartographic Conference, held in Washington DC on 2-7 July 2017 (http://icc2017.org/), the three ICA Commissions on the History of Cartography, Toponymy, and Atlases have joined forces with the Library of Congress’ Geography & Map Division for an international Workshop: ‘Charting the Cosmos of Cartography: History – Names – Atlases’. This Workshop will be held at the Library of Congress (Madison Building) in Washington DC (USA), from Wednesday, 28 June to Friday, 30 June 2017.

Through the presentation and discussion of over 20 peer-reviewed papers, the workshop aims to demonstrate the wealth of maps and charts produced from the early modern period to the – now also historic – 20th century, and the relevance of interpreting them. The history of cartography acts as the overarching motif connecting all the presentations, while toponymy and atlases form its main subthemes.
The papers on toponymy highlight the symbolic power of place names, especially their role in space-related identity building, by focusing on non-dominant cultural groups and what representation of their own place names on maps and in public space means for them. Others show place-name treatment on historical topographical maps as a reflection of power relations between dominant and non-dominant groups. The contributions aim at raising the awareness of place names as important and scientifically indicative ingredients of maps that cannot be confined to the orientation function.
Likewise, atlases have very often been treated as nothing more than volumes of bound maps, whose main purpose was to keep precious maps together and to shelter them from the wear and tear of storage. However, besides being a protective device for contents, atlases also became precious status icons in the 16th century, inventories of states and their belongings in the 17th century, scholarly geographical encyclopaedias and gazetteers in the 18th century and one of the most iconic teaching resources from the 19th century onwards. The digital revolution opened up the atlas concept for numerous disciplines, turning their focus towards spatial organisation of knowledge. Against this brief but very complex history, exploration in atlases seems to touch on many, though diverse topics in cartographic research.

Also included in the programme are two papers which will set the local scene: one on George Washington as a mapmaker and one on surveying the pivotal Mason-Dixon Line. In addition, keynotes will be delivered by Derek Alderman on the relevance of black toponyms and by Mark Monmonier on the motives for patenting map projections.


The Workshop will take place in the Mumford Room, on the sixth floor of the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, where the Geography and Map Division is also located. You can find more info and some maps to guide you to the venue here.

IMG_6952 10 LC 03 G&M entry 09 LC 02 Madison Bg


As part of the Workshop programme, participants are given the possibility to register for two technical tours. Because of the limited capacity of the map vaults that will be visited, places on both tours will be awarded strictly in the order of receipt of registrations on a first-come, first-served basis. More info on the technical tours can be found here.


The workshop programme from Wednesday, 28 June, till Friday, 30 June can be downloaded here.


Registering for the workshop is free of charge and can be done here.