Mapmaking, West African Cities, and the Colonial Archive

Authors: Ademide Adelusi-Adeluyi*, University of California - Riverside
Topics: Africa, Cartography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Lagos, GIS, History, Urban History
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Zulu, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This presentation examines how underused visual evidence in colonial archives—maps, plans and sketches and photographs—can be analyzed in tandem with written sources to explore the histories of West African cities. In one such case, the “Papers Relative to the Reduction of Lagos” produced around the British bombardments of Lagos in 1851 have been understood as framing a clear-cut episode of “gunboat imperialism” on the West African coast. This presentation demonstrates how a spatial analysis of this source, which was produced within the dual arts of conquest and cartography, offers a fresh framework for reconstructing historical narratives of both the built and natural environment around Lagos. It explores how use of these tools such as ArcGIS and Illustrator shifts historical narratives beyond well-worn schemes that plot power along specific axes of race, space and technology, and how we can reinterpret these sources without re-inscribing old ways of seeing the world.

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