CFP: Mapping and Making Place in the French Empire

Angela Epifano's picture

 CFP: "Mapping and Making Place in the French Empire," for H-France Salon


H-France Salon seeks contributions for a thematic volume examining the role of cartography and place-making in French imperial-colonial endeavors. Recent scholarship has considered the role of built environments, map making, and the environment itself in the formation, expansion, and formalization of imperial and colonial regimes. Historians of the French Empire, in particular, have considered the physical and epistemological construction of empire and colonial systems through place-making strategies that range from geographical surveying, map-making, border negotiations, the construction or re-construction of cities, as well as the establishment of certain railway and road systems. Similarly, greater attention has been paid to the ways that indigenous communities pushed against French endeavors, shaped place-making, or developed alternatives to imperial-colonial places and policies. Such work speaks across disciplines and connect scholars working in a variety of fields, time periods, and geographies, allowing for innovative examinations of the topic.

While there have been a number of edited volumes that consider place and mapping across the British Empire or global empires comparatively, there have been far fewer works tackling such themes solely within the French Empire. This volume aims to bring together scholarship from a range of fields that will illuminate points of convergence and departure within the French Empire. These pieces will hopefully open the door for future research and interdisciplinary conversations. The volume invites scholars to interrogate cartography and apparatuses of place-making across a broad temporal and geographic range. Pieces that center indigenous communities, practices, and actors are particularly welcome. Further, works that take advantage of H-France Salon’s digital, multi-media platform are also welcome.

Possible directions that authors might consider include:

  • Map-making and cartography as material practices that can take a variety of different forms, such as printed maps, ephemeral maps, orally transmitted maps/routes, photographs, paintings/drawings, etc.

  • How were cartographers trained? What did the work of cartographers look like in different locations? How was their work shared and received?

  • The intersection of mapping and connecting an empire through the construction of railways, roadways, ports, maritime routes, etc.

  • What role did ideas of the land and the environment play in French imperial-colonial projects?

  • How were cartographic practices deployed in French imperial-colonial expansion? What role did place-making and spatial constructions play in French empire-building?

  • How did indigenous actors respond to, negotiate within, and/or resist against French cartographic and place-making practices?

  • How did indigenous conceptions of place inform or shape French building and mapping? Conversely, did French notions shape those of indigenous populations?

  • What policies affected place-making on a local level? How were these policies deployed?

  • What sources exist beyond the written, colonial archive that shed light on this topic?

Submission Deadlines

May 1, 2023: Submission of abstracts (200 words) and a working title to Angie Epifano at

October 1, 2023: Submission of papers. Papers should be between 2,500 and 4,000 words, or 5,000-words including footnotes.  


Categories: CFP, Announcement
Keywords: CFP, French Empire