Open Issue

Maps of the South-Pacific: How Britain invented Australia



This study seeks to investigate an alternative view of land and of its cartographic representations. Such view sees land not as a priori given, but as available to be interpreted in relation to the subjective gaze of those who look at it and determine it as a social space. In particular, this study looks at the South-Pacific. The ‘discovery’ of the landmasses in that area is to be read in a typically European context, for it completes the vision of the world of those that had earlier ignored its existence. From this point of view, I have analyzed representations of Australia that show the evolution of how the rest of the world learnt to think about it. In particular, I have taken into account cartographic representations that show how the unknown lands of the South were turned into the fetished British possession of Australia. Looking at them is a useful way to develop considerations about the processes of appropriation of land by the British Empire.


CartographyRepresentationSouth-PacificTerra Australis IncognitaTabula RasaDiscoveryMaps
  • Issue: 6
  • DOI: 10.18573/j.2014.10287
  • Published on 1 Nov 2014