The Oxford Seminars in Cartography (TOSCA) invites proposals for papers for its 2021 online conference on women and maps.

Mapping, and closely linked professions such as surveying, exploration, navigation, hydrography, and printing, have conventionally been associated with men: as makers, patrons, users, and interpreters.  Sometimes those assumptions reflect reality, but sometimes they do not.  This conference explores the place of women and the feminine in maps and mapping, with no chronological or geographical bounds, and a broad understanding of 'maps'.  

Themes include but are not limited to:

  • Maps by women:  these include named makers, working in the field and the workshop, plus the unacknowledged female helpers of the men whose name is normally associated with the maps.
  • Maps depicting real women: these may be women patrons depicted by their names or arms, or perhaps absent and relegated to cartographic 'silence', to use Brian Harley's term.
  • Maps depicting women as icons or emblems:  women are depicted as muses, virtues, monstrous types, 'exotic' people, or nations, such as Britannia.  All convey messages about gender.
  • Maps depicting land and sea as gendered: caricature maps represent landscape, nations, peoples, or seas as gendered, while the toponyms chosen for inclusion reveal a gendered imprint on the earth.
  • Maps for women: special maps for the domestic sphere or for the education of small children, and maps directed to women as consumers of leisure or commodities can reveal the place of women and changing constructs of the feminine and the domestic.
  • Maps' paratexts and women: discovering women in map title pages, covers, marginalia, makers' names.  Does their marginal place on the page reinforce their social position or enable subversion?
  • Gendered images of maps:  works of art using maps, plans charts, and globes to reinforce or subvert gender stereotypes.

Proposals are invited for 20-minute research papers.  Early career and independent researchers along with established scholars from all disciplines are warmly invited to apply.    

Send an abstract of 200 words together with a 50-word biography to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 18 January 2020.

A selection of papers from TOSCA's 2017 will be published in a special issue of the Cartographic Journal (2020).  TOSCA is in discussion with the editor of the Cartographic Journal about a similar special issue from the conference on women in cartography.

Elizabeth Baigent and Nick Millea, TOSCA convenors, School of Geography / Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.