However, instead of showing the world as we usually see it, either from space or on a projection, Newman has created a map in which the size of each country is directly proportional to its population. This map, known to cartographers as a cartogram, offers a radical reinterpretation of the familiar world, as if the landmasses have been created by a malfunctioning lava lamp. The United Nations predicts that by Nigeria will be the fifth biggest country in the world, up from 15th in Countries such as Canada, Australia, and Russia, which tend to dominate most maps we normally see, are here revealed for what they are: relatively lightly populated.
The map is also good at suggesting reasons for regional geopolitics: look at the sizes of the Ukraine, Turkey, or Ethiopia for example. On what basis is that map drawn? This book is an introduction to critical cartography and GIS. As such, it is neither a textbook nor a software manual. My purpose is to discuss various aspects of mapping theory and practice, from critical social theory to some of the most interesting new mapping practices such as map hacking and the geospatial web.
It is an appreciation of a more critical cartography and GIS. Why is such a book needed? We can begin with silence. A recent and well-received book on political geography for example Jones et al. And while a book on Key Concepts in Geography Holloway et al. Yet is it the fault of these authors — accomplished scholars — that maps and mappings are not considered part of larger geographical enquiry?
For there is a second silence. Cartographers and GIS practitioners themselves have had very little to say about politics, power, discourse, postcolonial resistance, and the other topics that fascinate large swaths of geography and the social sciences. Open any cartography or GIS textbook and you will find only deep silence about these matters. There are few cartographic voices examining the effects of GIS and mapping in the pursuit of homeland security. There are no journals of cultural or political cartography. What percentage of GIS applications are being created to address poverty?
Is there feminist mapping? And if GIS and mapping have always coexisted alongside military and corporate applications then how many GIS practitioners have critically analyzed these relationships? Perhaps most arresting is the increasing separation of GIS and mapping from geography as a whole. In sum, one might be forced to conclude that mapping is either incapable of such concerns, or that it rejects them. This book is an introduction to these questions, and in part an answer to them from a critical perspective. It is an attempt to push back against the common perception that cartography and GIS are not concerned with geographical issues such as those listed above.
Mapping: A Critical Introduction to Cartography and GIS
The basic viewpoint is that mapping i. If it did not appear full-blown on the scene in the late s as the story usually goes, see Chapter 4 the critical traditions in cartography often accessible through a historical genealogy demonstrate how mapping and the wider field of geographical enquiry worked together for many years.
In this sense the discipline of cartography started to become divorced from its practice in the sense of map production. This might seem rather unusual. After all, there are no geographers doing geography and then a bunch of people in academia who study them and how they work! To be a geographer or a physicist or chemist is to do geography, physics, or chemistry. But this initial distinction between mapmaking and cartography as discipline is quite hard to maintain.
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Except you might call it GIS, geomatics, surveying, real-estate planning, city planning, geostatistics, political geography, geovisualization, climatology, archaeology, history, map mashups, and even on occasion biology and psychology. And finally there are the objects of critique, the im material products and processes of mapping and GIS.
All three of these; objects, do-ers or performers of mapping, and the production of critique have complex interrelationships. The point then is not that long ago there was something called mapmaking which is now called geospatial technology or GIS but rather that the understanding of what people thought they were doing with things they called maps has changed over time, as well as over space.
One of the stories that I was taught as a student is that cartography became scientific only recently, say after World War II.
Geography Course Guides
It did so, the story went, largely for two reasons. First, it finally threw off art and subjectivity here reference was often made to the work of Arthur Robinson and his call for formal procedures of map design. Thus science was posed in opposition to art. In doing so it paralleled the path taken by the discipline of political geography, which also found itself tarnished by its cooption during the war.
Johnston ] , cartography tried to insulate itself from politics altogether by gathering around itself the trappings of objective science. The map does exactly what it says on the tin. Yet both of these developments are myths. As the critical work of writers such as Matthew Sparke, Denis Cosgrove, and Anne Godlewska has shown, mapping as a discipline and as a practice failed to establish a rigid separation from art, nor did it ever become post-political.
Chapters 5 and 12 document these myths in more detail and show what the critical response has been. Wood By this he meant that the gatekeepers, academic cartographers, dwelling as it were like a parasite on actual mapping, were dying off. Maps themselves, meanwhile, have never been healthier — if only disciplinary academics would leave them be! While I have some sympathies for this position who wants gatekeepers except other gatekeepers? In fact practices and discourses are intimately intertwined. Not that discourses or knowledge go uncontested. Today we are still drawing on that renewed linkage between mapping and geography.
The central rationale of this book therefore is to demonstrate the relevance of spatial knowledge production in GIS and cartography as critical for geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, philosophers, and environmental scientists. Yet it is also plain to see that mapping has undergone a tremendous re-evaluation over the last 15 years or longer. In accounts of this period Schuurman ; Sheppard , the story is told of how the encounters between mapping and its critics began with mutual suspicion and ended up with something like mutual respect.
By this he means not just a questioning approach, but one that is critical in the sense used in the wider fields of geography and critical theory. This sense includes Marxist, feminist, and post-structural approaches among others. In particular I think it is fruitful to see the history of critical GIS and cartography not as something that has only recently occurred, but one that in fact can be seen at other more distant times as well.
This is what Foucault means by subjugated knowledges; ones that for whatever reason did not rise to the top, or were disqualified for example, for not being scientific enough. Furthermore, Foucault suggests that it is the reappearance of these local knowledges alongside the official grand narratives that actually allows critique to take place. This is also an idea that we shall examine in the next chapter. This book then appears at a transitional moment in the history of GIS and mapping. Great changes are occurring and it would be wrong to say we know exactly where they are leading.
The following diagram summarizes some of these tensions which are fluctuating throughout mapping. This diagram is meant to be indicative rather than complete. Imagine that the space transected by the tensional vectors is a rubber sheet being stretched out readers with multi-dimensional imaginations could also see it as an expanding sphere. As the sheet is stretched the field gets larger — but also thinner, perhaps dangerously so in some places.
- Jeremy Crampton: Geographic Information Systems, landscape, mapping technology.
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- Jeremy Crampton: Geographic Information Systems, landscape, mapping technology.
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The increasing use of mapping technologies among so-called amateurs or novices for example the — million downloads of Google Earth is reshaping all sorts of new spatial media, and is allowing the pursuit of alternative knowledges. The desire for mapping to be post-political is exemplified in the diagram by those who focus on the technical issues in isolation from their larger socio-political context.
Many cartography and GIS journals have now become almost completely dominated by technical issues, research which no doubt reflects the research agendas pursued by the next generation of PhDs — of which you may be one.
Securitization of information refers to the efforts that are made to anchor, control, and discipline geographical knowledges. Certainly it is nothing new to observe that there is a danger whenever technology is involved of taking up mapping only as a technology. But because it is often ignored, the implications of this seemingly counterintuitive claim are taken up in various ways throughout the book. Why is critique needed?