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Above is a map of the Hawaiian Islands (Sandwich Islands) printed by G. Nicol and T. Cadell for the 1785 edition of Captain James Cook and James King’s, A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean.


European Mapmakers and the Pacific


by Katherine Parker, PhD Candidate

Department of History, University of Pittsburgh

Summer is upon us, and thousands of Europeans will travel to vacation spots along the Pacific Rim. Over 100 years ago, Europeans journeyed to the Pacific with different intentions, and whenever the subject of Pacific exploration is broached, one usually imagines romantic islands, isolated castaways, or the intrepid Captain Cook. Few would picture the streets of eighteenth-century London, specifically those near St. Paul’s Churchyard. Nor would they think of men leaning over a copper plate, meticulously engraving with a burin. However, it was laborers (almost all men) in just such a setting who forged the maps of the Pacific—a region penetrated extensively by European overseas empires during the length of the eighteenth century. These maps were early drafts of the world as people know it today. Through the efforts of engravers and print-sellers in shops across Europe, but especially in Britain, the modern world took shape in the form of printed maps and globes.  This article will explain the unique occupational situation of British mapmakers, which made them vital to a larger community who wished to learn about this vast space.  My dissertation explores this subject, and I was able to research the project thanks to a generous grant from the EUCE/ESC.

            Despite their centrality in the process of sharing geographic knowledge, mapmakers have been largely left out of Pacific exploration history. Scholars have probed the identity of the explorers, what might (or might not) have happened in encounters with indigenous peoples, and even the tools and books taken on board. However, we know far less about those charged with taking the information brought back from the ships and turning it into cartographic objects to sell. To return mapmakers to their place within the process of exploration is to forge a deeper understanding of how eighteenth-century peoples learned about a world that was expanding before their eyes.

            In the eighteenth century, maps were produced for a broader audience who turned to geography as a way to rationalize and organize large amounts of information. Scholars like Robert Mayhew have discovered that eighteenth-century geography was not a specific discipline, but rather a subject that enhanced comprehension of human difference and history. The practice of geography was primarily textual, as exemplified by the proliferation of large, descriptive geographic tomes and travel accounts. Added to these texts were sheet maps, standing globes, and pocket globes, making geography a commodity available to a growing consumer market. Beyond the subject itself, there was also geographic knowledge, which, as Charles W. J. Withers wrote, is best thought of as the result of a set of practices involving observation, classification, and compilation to order knowledge spatially.  Eighteenth-century people—from sailors to merchants to philosophers and arm-chair travelers—called upon such knowledge as a way to access and order information about newly encountered places.  Most of this news came from voyages launched by European overseas empires.

            It should be noted that the cartographic creation of the Pacific was not merely a British, but a trans-imperial project, especially in the case of French-British interaction (including the contributions of indigenous peoples). However, although Russia, Spain, the Netherlands, and France all probed the area in exploratory expeditions, by the second half of the eighteenth century the British dominated Pacific voyages of discovery.  They produced much of the information by which Europeans learned of the region. This was possibly due to the particular community in Britain that called for, organized, and processed geographic information. Their intellectual division of labor reveals the social relations that fed the creation of a specific body of knowledge.

            Due to late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth-century naval reforms, the British Royal Navy, specifically the Admiralty, became the main arbiter in the commissioning of exploratory expeditions. It established partnerships to share geographic information and experts with other organizations like the Royal Society. For maps and geographic descriptions, the Admiralty relied on the private mapmaking industry. Together, these three groups dominated the collection, compilation, and distribution of geographic knowledge about the Pacific in eighteenth-century Britain.

            What precisely was the role of each of these groups? The Admiralty provided ships, men, resources, and logistical expertise, but they had no hydrographic or cartographic departments like those of the French and Spanish crowns. While the Admiralty of the early- to mid-eighteenth century focused on discovering trade routes and ports, the Royal Society was interested in cataloguing a more complete understanding of the globe. The focus on natural philosophy allowed the Royal Society to develop a lively correspondence with savants and academies abroad, including the Académie Royale des Sciences in France. They often received specialized information about foreign voyages to which the Admiralty was not privy. As part of their interest in understanding the natural order, the Royal Society was also curious about maps and geographical tracts.

            The Admiralty and the Royal Society needed maps yet neither had the skill or tools to create them. Both, in turn, had to rely on the domestic private publishing industry, a situation unique among their imperial rivals. The French crown employed numerous géographes de roi whose maps were subsidized by and created for the state, while Britain usually had only one Royal Geographer whose projects were not guaranteed royal patronage, much less parliamentary funds. Whereas mapmakers in France were usually compilers of various sources who then sent their drafts to be engraved and printed by guild artisans, the British mapmakers tended to be engravers in their own right. British mapmakers taught themselves the details of cartography and compilation as they produced maps to sell.

            Mapmaking started to grow in Britain in the mid-sixteenth century. Until the early eighteenth century the Dutch were the leaders of the European map trade. Their dominance dwindled in the early eighteenth century, leaving British mapmakers, with access to the extensive presses of London, to ramp up domestic production. British mapmakers heavily borrowed, or directly copied, from French maps, whose geographers were the most highly trained in Europe. However, information about the Pacific was sparse, leaving each map compiler, regardless of nationality, with tricky decisions as to exactly how to portray the Pacific.

            British mapmakers had to seek private funds to finance costly operations from survey and compilation to engraving and printing. Many early-eighteenth-century British mapmakers chose to cut the costs of surveying and instead depended on descriptions from published voyage accounts or specialized periodicals like the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions. However, many of these sources were not complete enough to create relatively accurate maps, a fact much lamented by mapmakers. There was no formal regulation of the map market and plagiarism was rampant. Mapmakers exercised self-regulation, lambasting those who created comparatively faulty or obscure representations. A mapmaker’s reputation among his peers was based on his detailed, balanced, and consistent representation that preferably contained original information.  If economic success depended in part on the inclusion of new information, the world’s least explored region, the Pacific, posed a challenge. It would take numerous expeditions to gather the type of measurements that would allow the Pacific to be mapped to the standards of the day.

            British geographic knowledge creation, therefore, was an interdependent yet informal process driven by the market. Part of this larger market for geographic knowledge included naval officers who were required to provide themselves with the instruments, maps, and books necessary for a voyage. Fellows of the Royal Society also relied on printed maps in their individual projects and as part of their general mission to gather knowledge about the known world. Whereas the Admiralty and the Royal Society were dependent on mapmakers and geographers for published material, mapmakers themselves were in need of new information which the Royal Society’s international correspondence and the Admiralty’s voyages could in principle provide. This convergence of interests and complementarity of skills and contacts characterized the unique geographic knowledge community within Britain. Together Fellows of the Royal Society, the Admiralty, and private mapmakers would produce the body of geographic knowledge available for a readership who wanted to incorporate the Pacific into larger worldviews.

            Exactly how representations of the Pacific changed over the course of the eighteenth-century, and who was considered skilled enough to create such representations, are the focus of my dissertation in progress. Now that mapmakers have been returned to their central role in the network of those who planned, produced, and presented geographic knowledge, it is necessary to search the archives for further traces of them. Unfortunately, as artisans without a designated guild or reliable patronage, they seldom left more than their completed maps. Thus, to better understand the geographical creation of the Pacific, it is necessary to traverse the streets of early modern London in search of the men and the maps who introduced their version of the Pacific to European readers.


In Review

Conversations on Europe

On March 17, the EUCE/ESC continued its monthly virtual roundtable series, Conversations on Europe, with a videoconference entitled, “TTIP-PING Point? The Present and Future of the Transatlantic Trade Agreement.”  Moderated by EUCE/ESC Director Ron Linden (left), the panel of experts included Daniel Hamilton (right), Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Professor and Director at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; Ben Beachy, Research Director at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch; and Elvire Fabry, Senior Research Fellow at Notre Europe-Jacques Delors Institute.  The panelists assessed where TTIP negotiations stand now, how the treaty relates to politics within the U.S. and EU, and what the consequences might be for the realization of a final treaty.  The Conversation can be seen at\

On April 14, the EUCE/ESC held its final installment of Conversations on Europe for the academic year.  The virtual roundtable videoconference was devoted to “Before There Was Ebola: European Responses to Diseases in Africa - Past and Present.”  Moderated by EUCE/ESC Associate Director Allyson Delnore (right), the panel of experts included Mari Webel (far right), Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh; Guillaume Lachenal, Lecturer at Université Paris Diderot; and Jessica Pearson-Patel, Assistant Professor of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma.  The Conversation (which can be seen at focused on the extent to which contemporary European and U.S. representations of Ebola borrowed from representations of earlier diseases occurring in Africa.  Panelists considered the possible implications that such representations have on mounting an effective response to an ongoing public health crisis.  

15th Annual Policy Conference

On April 9-10, the EUCE/ESC held its 15th annual policy conference, titled “Countering Violent Extremism in the U.S. and the EU.” Organized under the leadership of Professor Michael Kenney, Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, the conference focused on some specific security challenges confronting Western democratic societies, and innovative approaches to addressing them. Through an exchange of ideas and perspectives among researchers, practitioners and the public, the conference addressed how policy makers face difficult questions regarding how to prevent their citizens from engaging in terrorism, what to do with citizens who seek to travel abroad to fight in “jihad,” how to minimize the potential for violent attacks when fighters return to their countries of origin, and the role local communities play in countering violent extremism. In the seventh and final panel of the conference, Omar Mulbocus (left), aof the West London Initiative, Professor Kenney (middle), and Dr. Usama Hasan, Senior Researcher of the Quilliam Foundation (right) discussed, “Counter-Radicalization: Views from the Field.”  Mulbocus is a former member of former member of Hizb in Mauritius and Al Muhajiroun in the United Kingdom in the 1990s.  Dr. Hasan, a former lecturer at Middlesex University, has argued in favor of a compatibility between Islam and human evolution.  The conference’s schedule can be found at:

During the conference’s first panel, titled “Violent Extremism in Europe,” Dr. Sam Mullins presented the lecture, “Violent Jihad: Comparing the Experiences of the US and UK.”  Dr. Mullins is a professor at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany, and his fellow panelists included Professor Kenney and Dr. Nico Prucha of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College in London.  Frank Hofmann, a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), served as moderator.

The conference also included a Junior Scholars panel consisting of GSPIA students.  Joseph K. Sobek (above), a Security and Intelligence Studies student in the Masters of International Affairs program, presented a lecture titled, “Recruitment for the Islamic State: Romanticizing Warfare.”  Moderated by Dr. Burcu Savun, an Associate Professor of Political Science, the panel included Filip Stojkovski and Christina Unger, both of whom also focus on Security and Intelligence Studies.



Congratulations Graduates!

Congratulations to the following undergraduate and graduate students who will graduate with certificates in West European and/or European Union Studies this year:


Undergraduate Students

West European Studies Certificate

Clara Almy - French

Scott Borgeson – Italian Studies & Linguistics

Ryan Cardillo – Italian Language & Political Science

Chen Chun – Psychology

Dominic DiGioia - History

Sarah Gahr – History of Art and Architecture &


Alex Ifkovits – Economics & Environmental Studies

Kathryn Karl – Architectural Studies

Ryan Kearney – Anthropology & History

Erika Latham – Anthropology & Linguistics

Samantha Levinson – Economics & French

KerryAnne Long – Political Science

Monica McQuail – French & Political Science

Sara O’Toole – History & Psychology

Rachel Peters – French & History

Samantha Pierce – Psychology & Spanish

Thomas Rhodes – Actuarial Mathematics

Michael Theys – Political Science & Spanish

Kristen Tideman – English Writing

Amy Uihlein – History & Religious Studies

Amber Wright - Psychology


European Union Studies Certificate

Claire Deahl – Anthropology & Spanish

Harry Clapsis - Economics

Clare Hamilton - Linguistics & Political Science

Nicholas Weltz – Political Science


Graduate Students

West European Studies Certificate

Andrew Coyne - Law

Katherine Mulvihill – Education

Rachael English - Education


European Union Studies Certificate

Jessica Kuntz – Graduate School of Public and

                         International Affairs


The participants of the 10th annual Graduate Student Conference on the European Union pose together.  Uri Dadush (first row, fourth from right), a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, gave the keynote address.



Conference Success

On March 27-28, the EUCE/ESC hosted its 10th annual Graduate Student Conference on the European Union.  Held at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, this year’s theme was “Still United?  The European Union through Enlargement, Crisis, and Transformation.”

            Uri Dadush, a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, delivered a keynote address titled, “The European Economy in a Changing World Order.”  Dadush focused on trends in the global economy and is currently also tracking developments in the Eurozone crisis.  He is the co-author of four books, including Inequality in America: Facts, Trends and International Perspective, Juggernaut: How Emerging Markets Are Reshaping Globalization, Currency Wars, and Paradigm Lost: The Euro in Crisis. He has published over a dozen Carnegie papers and policy briefs as well as numerous journal articles.

            Along with panel discussions, the conference included a workshop that was held at the University of Pittsburgh’s Hillman Library.  The workshop focused on, “Gathering Information on and in the European Union,” and was taught by Ian Thomson, Director of Cardiff European Documentary Collection at Cardiff University.


EUCE/ESC Spotlight:

Jasmine Laroche

This month, EUCE/ESC Newsletter Editor Gavin Jenkins interviewed alum Jasmine Laroche, a graduate student in the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.  While at Pitt, Laroche majored in Political Science and earned a European Union Studies certificate.  A member of the Chi Omega sorority, Laroche played women’s club soccer and was active in the Student International Relations Society.  After graduating from Pitt, she worked for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Q: Why was earning a European Union Studies certificate important to your course work, and how has it helped you on your career path?

A: When I was an undergraduate student, I was very interested in understanding policies and conflict management. I was really drawn to international studies, but I discovered that Pitt doesn’t offer an International Relations major. To fill that void, I decided that I would get a certificate in Global Studies and European Union Studies. I always had a strong interest in European history, and I always wanted to study abroad in a Western European country. The European Union Studies certificate allowed me to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain, while simultaneously fulfilling all of my required coursework.

            Additionally, I believe that the European Union Studies Certificate prepared me for my career and graduate studies. Traveling abroad helped me to appreciate both international and domestic policies. I realized that my passion for serving those in need can also be translated domestically. As a result of this, after I graduated from Pitt, I chose to work for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, a small non-profit that serves low-income, high academic achieving students. That experience really peaked my interest in domestic policy and how I can better reach low-income youth. This then lead to me enrolling at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Without my experience abroad, along with the economics course I took through the European Studies Certificate, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

Q: What was it like studying in Barcelona?

A: It really was an amazing experience. I was able to fine tune my Spanish and confidently speak Spanish to the locals. Living overseas forced me to grow as a young woman, and become more independent. It pushed me to adapt to a new culture and language, and I’m truly grateful for the experience.

Q: How is grad school at Berkeley?  What influenced your decision to go to grad school for Public Policy and what are your goals after you graduate?

A: Graduate school is very challenging, but it is a good challenge. I am pushed every day to think critically at a quick pace so that I am prepared to make important decisions within the real world. I chose to get a Master degree in Public Policy because I have always had an interest in serving the public, but I knew that I wanted to couple civil service with quantitative analysis. The Goldman School allows me to build the quantitative skills I am looking to acquire, but I also get to choose courses that fit my interest in education/social policy. My hope one day is to serve low income, at-risk youth to ensure that they have an improved quality of life. I hope to work with wrap around services that focus on improving access to quality education and providing economic opportunities for low-income communities.

Q: What got you interested in this career path? 

A: I never pictured myself going to graduate school for a Master degree in Public Policy, so I wouldn’t say that I knew that this would be the career path for me. What I did know was that serving marginalized groups is very important to me. I have always had a passion for serving people in need, and simply speaking with my advisors and professors at Pitt really helped open my eyes to potential career paths. [EUCE/ESC Assistant Director] Steve Lund and Economics Professor Shirley Cassing have been a great help, and I am truly appreciative of their guidance.

Q: What advice would you give undergraduates?

A: My advice to undergraduates would be to be comfortable not knowing exactly what your plan is or will be. Don’t be afraid to take risks and to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. As long as you are working towards some personal goal that you have set for yourself, then that is good enough. Everything will fall in to place. Have fun and enjoy this experience!