The Chorographic Commission of New Granada
The Chorographic Commission traversed the country then known as New Granada in the 1850s, led by Italian cartographer Agustín Codazzi. The introduction explains the sources and scholarship that inform this study, which examines the commission’s maps and illustrations jointly as an integrated body of visual culture. The introduction places the commission in a tumultuous historical context of liberal revolutions, civil wars, partisan divisions, and constitutional revisions. The tenuous young republic lacked both infrastructure and a clearly defined territory. The introduction lays out the importance of race, region, and gender. The book’s central paradox is introduced: Codazzi and the other commissioners, like most of their contemporaries, assumed that a prosperous and harmonious republic required a homogeneous population and a unified national territory. Yet they encountered and depicted not homogeneity but “heterogeneity,” not unity but fragmentation, not pure European ancestry but mixture and variety. Mapping the Country of Regions is an effort to resolve this apparent dissonance, or rather, to understand how these nineteenth-century intellectuals tried to resolve it. They did so by organizing diversity into regional spaces and human types, and by arguing that the nation was in the process of unifying through the emergence of a national race of Granadinos.
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