A geographic expedition known as the Chorographic Commission explored and mapped the provinces of the republic then known as New Granada (present-day Colombia) in the 1850s, just as slavery was ending there and suffrage was expanding to include subaltern men of all racial groups. The commission’s mandate was to depict the young republic, its population, and its resources with an eye toward building a capitalist export economy and a unified nation. In this talk, Nancy Appelbaum examines the commission’s illustrations, maps, and documentation to trace how the commission defined two kinds of post-emancipation landscapes: a lowland coastal region with a large black population and a more heavily indigenous and mestizo highland Andean region. By privileging the inhabitants of the cool Andean highlands over those of the tropical lowlands, the commission contributed to racializing the landscape, leaving a lasting but problematic legacy for today’s Colombians.
Dr. Appelbaum is Professor of History and Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program at SUNY Binghamton. She is the author of award-winning "Mapping the Country of Regions: The Chorographic Commission of Nineteenth-Century Colombia" (UNC Press, 2016), a study of nineteenth century Latin America's most extensive geographic expedition.
**Sponsored by the History Department and Society of Fellows.