13 Jul 2019

Mapping Tibet: Pasts, Presents, Futures

Roundtable for 15th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Paris.

Galen Murton


This roundtable session brings together scholars utilizing various cartographic and mapping technologies to study contemporary and historical dynamics of place making and spatial understanding across the Tibetan Plateau and Inner Asia. From the Anthropocene and land use-land-cover change to historical and contemporary map-making to governance regimes, infrastructure, and systems of religious sovereignty, we examine and apply multiple cartographic tools to better apprehend the ways in which social, political, environmental, and developmental practices are represented, produced, and contested. Taking a wide view across both time and space, contributions include: comparative analyses of historical-colonial maps with current conceptualizations of place and mental mapping (Bauer); mapping historical rule and territorial power of the Qing Dynasty from Tibet to Mongolia (Pratte); utilizing Open Street Map and open-source tools to map 21st century road development along historical trans-Himalayan trade routes (Murton); the application and transference of remote sensing techniques from the Polar North to the ‘Third Pole’ of Tibet (Rebtsa); and the collection and illustration of Tibetan sacred spaces in new GIS datasets (Farmer). Both thinking of mapping as engaged practice and calling for critical cartographic sensibilities, we encourage panelists to demonstrate specific and effective ways in which mapping has and can been used to conduct cutting-edge research across the Tibetan Plateau and beyond.


  • Galen Murton, LMU Munich and James Madison University
  • Ken Bauer, Dartmouth College (co-organizer)
  • Anne-Sophie Pratt, Harvard University
  • DrikJa Khar, University of Alaska
  • Mike Farmer, Independent Scholar-London
  • Alex Gardner, Treasure of Lives-Rubin Musuem of Art
  • Andrew Quintman, Wesleyan University

Highland Asia Research Group
LMU, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oettingenstr. 67
80538 Munich, Germany
martin.saxer@lmu.de | +49 89 2180 9639

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