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10 Anthropomorphic Maps: On the Aesthetic Form and Political Function of Body Metaphors in the Early Modern Europe Discourse

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Chapter Summary

In the 16th and 17th century, Europe underwent profound political, religious, economic and social change, which contemporaries interpreted as an alarming crisis. The new pictorial form apparently originated in an anthropomorphic map, a hybrid fusing cartographic and allegorical modes of representation to create the image of a young woman from abstract depictions of mountains, rivers, valleys and cities. This chapter traces the development, formal structure and political function of this type of image, and casts some light on the ambivalence of the highly antithetical Europe images in the context of an early modern notion of European identity. It addresses the questions: To what extent did these two images depend on the contexts in which they appeared? In this period of political and social upheaval, what significance did images have for the formation of a European identity? And, finally, what specific functions were attributed to cartography and allegorical representation?

Keywords: anthropomorphic maps; early modern Europe discourse; European identity; political function



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