In celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Gerard Mercator, we are delighted to announce the international conference 'Mercator Revisited - Cartography in the Age of Discovery'. The conference will take place from April 25th till 28th, 2012 in the city of Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, 15 km from the town of Rupelmonde where Gerard de Kremer was born on the 5th of March 1512. The conference focuses on the place of cartography in general and of Mercator in specific in the 16th century. This Age of Discovery presented mapmakers with both unprecedented opportunity and scientific obligation to collect, record and categorise the world ‘as it was’. At the same time, the greatest mapmakers of the era were also scientists, craftsmen and humanists influenced by international politics, science and philosophy. Their maps not only reflect the factual discoveries of the time but also the environments within which the maps were produced.
Interest in Mercator's work peaked with the Mercator Years of 1994 and 1995, when he was once more established as one of the most important geographers in the history of early modern cartography. Relying on information from explorers, Mercator created world maps of renowned quality and precision. In the process he developed the Mercator projection, in which lines of constant bearing are always straight, and he coined the term 'Atlas'.
Since the 1990's, new lines of approach and research methods may have been developed that can shed a new light on the work of Mercator and his contemporaries. This conference aims to provide a forum for scholars who are interested in the exchange of these new research findings and ideas. It aims at giving a fresh impetus to interest in the subject and is open to contributors with a background in a.o. geography, historical cartography, history, art history or cultural heritage.
The conference focuses on the following five main themes.
- Science and technology as related to cartography in the early modern period: surveying instruments and techniques, trigonometry, map projections (and their implications for navigation) ...
- Mercator's inspiration, cartographic output and impact: his training, his resources, comparative studies with other cartographic products of his time, impact on subsequent centuries ...
- Cartography in the Age of Discovery: impact of the expanding world view and shifting territorial boundaries on map representations, iconography of maps ...
- New ways of approaching cartographic heritage in view of new techniques
- Mercator's entourage, world view, philosophy and cosmology
In addition, contributions regarding other aspects of the life and work of Mercator may be proposed.