Postcolonial Mappae Mundi

John Thieme (Università dell’East Anglia (Gran Bretagna))


After a brief consideration of some of the ways in which cartography has operated through the ages, this article discusses the maps mentioned in the first part of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and references to maps in the work of three postcolonial writers: Jamaica Kincaid, Amitav Ghosh and Derek Walcott. It suggests that the postcolonial texts display a distinctive cartographical vision, which rethinks the way spaces are imaginatively constructed. Different though they are from one another, the three postcolonial writers considered particularly foreground the personal cognitive aspects of mapping and, explicitly or implicitly, challenge the totalizing, supposedly authoritative versions of world geography that characterize maps of Empire and Western cartography more generally.


Achebe, Chinua. 1988. An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness. In Achebe, Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays, 1965-87. Oxford: Heinemann, 1-13.

Barber, Peter (ed.) 2005. The Map Book. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Caminero-Santangelo, Byron. 2005. African Fiction and Joseph Conrad: Reading Postcolonial Intertextuality. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Collits, Terry. 2005. Postcolonial Conrad: Paradoxes of Empire. London and New York: Routledge.

Conrad, Joseph. 1994. Heart of Darkness (first pbld. 1902). Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Conrad, Joseph. 1917. The Shadow Line. London: Dent.

Conrad, Joseph. 1924. Geography and Some Explorers. The National Geographic Magazine, 45, 239-274.

Cresswell, Tim. 2004. Place: A Short Introduction. Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell.

Farn, Regelind. 2005. Colonial and Postcolonial Rewritings of Heart of Darkness: A Century of Dialogue with Joseph Conrad. Boca Raton, FL:

Ghosh, Amitav. 1988. The Shadow Lines. London: Bloomsbury.

Harwood, Jeremy. 2006. To the Ends of the Earth: 100 Maps That Changed the World. Cincinnati, OH: David and Charles.

Kincaid, Jamaica. 1988. A Small Place. London: Virago. Kincaid, Jamaica. 2000. My Garden (book). London: Vintage.

Knowles, Owen & Gene M. Moore. 2000. Oxford Readers Companion to Conrad. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McAuley, James. James McAuley (Australian Poets Series). 1963. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.

Massey, Doreen. 2005. For Space. London: Sage.

Said, Edward. 1993a. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf.

Said, Edward. 1993b. Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (first pbld. 1978). Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Senior, Olive. 1995. Gardening in the Tropics. Newcastle on Tyne: Bloodaxe.

Thieme, John. 1999. Derek Walcott. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press.

Thieme, John. 2001. Postcolonial Con-Texts. London and New York: Continuum. Walcott, Derek. 1990. Omeros. London: Faber.


Views: 90

Download PDF

Downloads: 64