Capitalism and Cartography in the Dutch Golden Age

Capitalism and Cartography in the Dutch Golden Age

Elizabeth A. Sutton

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226254784

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Capitalism and Cartography examines how map publication and dissemination coincided with and was part of the rise of the Dutch Republic as a preeminent capitalist nation in the early modern global world-system. Printed maps both reflected and reinforced an episteme that integrated humanist conceptions of individual virtue with the concept of the nation-state and modern capitalism. This book explores how printed Dutch maps of their Atlantic territories helped rationalize the global expansion of the Dutch during their so-called Golden Age. It is argued that picturing underscored the legal, political, and economic systems of Dutch imperial hegemony. These early printed Dutch maps are presented as historical case studies of how authorized media perpetuated and promoted modern state capitalism. Pictures—in maps and books—showed the boundaries, commodities, and topographical details that the publisher, state-sponsored corporate bodies, and the merchant and governing elite deemed significant. Those with political and economic capital reinforced their power and values in the cultural sphere pictorially, and in the intellectual sphere in historical and legal texts. These two domains combined in printed maps by Amsterdam publishers, especially Claes Jansz Visscher. The maps of Dutch territories in North and South America and land reclamation projects in the Netherlands indicate how print media was used both to increase investment and to project a common narrative of national unity in the first half of the seventeenth century.