Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Michelle Decker

Reader 2

Aaron Matz

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Rights Information

Shringi D Vikram


Kamila Shamsie’s 2002 Kartorgaphy explores and transforms modes of map-making. This book is set in Karachi, during the city’s most tumultuous epochs. Shamsie has her two main characters, Raheen and Karim, respond to the violence Karachi witnesses, during the India-Pakistan split, during the formation of Bangladesh, and during cataclysmic sectarian riots in 1986 and in 1994, by either turning to, or turning away from, maps of the city. Karim uses traditional cartography, instituted by British imperialism, to acknowledge and connect with diverse ethnic and religious communities across the city, by naming the distinct places within the city that they each call home, to counter the erasure that he supposes must be responsible for brutality. According to Raheen however, the regurgitation of colonial maps brutally disregards lived experiences that do not comply with the organization of the city and people that the map institutes. She suggests that naming places on formal maps should be replaceable with personal stories that relate to the place in question. She thinks storytelling accounts for experiences that exist outside the formal boundaries of mapmaking, and gesture to the multiple variegated interactions that people have with space. However, she ignores every interaction but those experienced by her own community and limits her perception of space to what she knows. Kartography eventually proposes storytelling beyond the familiar bounds of one's community and fuses stories with traditional cartographic nomenclature, to create a new way of mapping space. This new hybrid counters the imperialism inherent in maps and emphasizes the connection between the diverse interactions people have with place.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.