Race and the Hereford Mappa Mundi

Constructed from a crucible of expulsion, exploration, and intellectual innovation, the Hereford Mappa Mundi is a prime example of the many wonders of the medieval world. My project focused on the portrayal of race on the map through exploring both embodied and bodily representations of race.

Constructed from a crucible of expulsion, exploration, and intellectual innovation, the Hereford Mappa Mundi is a prime example of the many wonders of the medieval world. Centred on Jerusalem and overlooked by an omnipresent Christ, it provides a glimpse into a particular 13th century world view conveyed through the manipulation of proximity and iconography. The map itself falls into the genre of Mappamundi, translated as 'cloth of the world', and as the largest surviving world map, the Hereford map occupies a unique position in medieval cartography.

My project focused on the portrayal of race in the Hereford Mappa Mundi through an exploration of both embodied and bodily representations of race. Indeed, the map raises multiple questions regarding medieval attitudes towards the wider world and also significantly links to pivotal modern day debates on how historians should approach the study of race in the medieval period and beyond.