You find a lot of strange things on late medieval and ‘Age of Discovery’ era maps. Of course there are weird beasts of every sort: dragons, griffins, sea monsters, and sundry multi-headed predators. But you also find a lot of bizarre, well, people. These include giant people, tiny people, one-footed people, people with two heads, and people with no heads at all (their eyes, mouths and noses are in their chests). What is one to make of all these different kinds of humanity? And, more important from a historical point of view, what did Renaissance mapmakers think they were doing when they adorned their cartographical products with them? In Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps, and Monsters (Cambridge University Press, 2016), Surekha Davies offer answers aplenty, and good ones.
Listen to the podcast related to the book here. (56:08 minutes)
Surekha Davies taught early modern history at Birkbeck between 2006 and 2012, as a sessional lecturer and then as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow.