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Jeremy W. Crampton

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Mapping: A Critical Introduction to Cartography and GIS is an introduction to the critical issues surrounding Mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) across a wide range of disciplines for the non-specialist reader. * Examines the key influences Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and cartography have on the study of geography and other related disciplines * Represents the first in-depth summary of the "new cartography" that has appeared since the early 1990s * Provides an explanation of what this new critical cartography is, why it is important, and how it is relevant to a broad, interdisciplinary set of readers * Presents theoretical discussion supplemented with real-world case studies * Brings together both a technical understanding of GIS and Mapping as well as sensitivity to the importance of theory

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List of Figures

List of Tables

About the Cover: Size Matters

Chapter 1 Maps – A Perverse Sense of the Unseemly

The Need for Critique

The Third Way?

A Note on Terminology


Chapter 2 What Is Critique?


Critical Cartography and GIS: Some Basic Principles and Examples


Chapter 3 Maps 2.0: Map Mashups and New Spatial Media

Introduction: The Story of the Where

The Google Experience and the First Mashup

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)

Political Applications

Professionals Versus the Amateurs: De-professionalization or Re-professionalization?

“The Democratization of Cartography”

Conclusion: Can Peasants Map?


Chapter 4 What Is Critical Cartography and GIS?

Undisciplining Mapping

What Is a Map? Why We Can’t Define It and Why It Doesn’t Matter

The Production of Space

Chapter 5 How Mapping Became Scientific

Countable Information

Arthur Robinson and the OSS

From OSS to a Scientific Discipline of Cartography

Another Kind of Binary Mapping

The Map Communication Model (MCM)

The “Mangle” of Geographic Knowledge and Science


Chapter 6 Governing with Maps:

The Political Economy of Government

From l’état, c’est moi to l’état, c’est l’état

Thematic Maps and Governmentality: Introducing the Calculating Surveillant State



Chapter 7 The Political History of Cartography Deconstructed: Harley, Gall, and Peters

Truth and Power: Cartography as a Social Practice

The Peters Map Controversy: Situated Knowledges and the Politics of Truth


James Gall, Minister of the Church of Scotland

James Gall, Preadamite

The Peters Map

Harley in Person


Chapter 8 GIS After Critique: What Next?

The GIS Wars

A Short History of the GIS Wars

What Have We Learned: After Critique

After Critique? Extending Possibilities for GIScience


Chapter 9 Geosurveillance and Spying with Maps

Fear of a BlackBerry Planet

Forms and History of Geosurveillance

The Panopticon

Surveillance, Risk and the “Avalanche of Numbers”

Geosurveillant Technologies and the Biopolitics of Fear

“Map or Be Mapped”: Counter-Mapping, Spaces of Resistance, and the Ethics of Forgetting


Chapter 10 Cyberspace and Virtual Worlds

Science Fiction?

Tensions in the Web: GIS vs. the Geoweb

Size Does Matter!

Cybergeographies: The Work of Martin Dodge

The Digital Divide


Chapter 11 The Cartographic Construction of Race and Identity


Changing Conceptions of Race

Race-Based Mapping

The Reinscription of Race?

Marketing a race-based medicine

Some Remaining Questions for Geography and Race

Chapter 12 The Poetics of Space:Art, Beauty, and Imagination

Psychogeography and Art-Machines

Recovering Art



Chapter 13 Epilogue: Beyond the Cartographic Anxiety?

The Necessity of Questioning

Beyond the Cartographic Anxiety – Thinking Out Space




Critical Introductions to Geography

Critical Introductions to Geography is a series of textbooks for undergraduate courses covering the key geographical subdisciplines and providing broad and introductory treatment with a critical edge. They are designed for the North American and international market and take a lively and engaging approach with a distinct geographical voice that distinguishes them from more traditional and out-dated texts.

Prospective authors interested in the series should contact the series editor:

John Paul Jones III

Department of Geography and Regional Development University of Arizona

[email protected]


Cultural Geography

Don Mitchell

Political Ecology

Paul Robbins

Geographies of Globalization

Andrew Herod

Geographies of Media and Communication

Paul C. Adams

Social Geography

Vincent J. Del Casino Jr


Jeremy W. Crampton


Environment and Society

Paul Robbins, Sarah Moore, and John Hintz

Geographic Thought

Tim Cresswell

Cultural Landscape

Donald Mitchell and Carolyn Breitbach

Research Methods in Geography

Basil Gomez and John Paul Jones III

This edition first published 2010 © 2010 Jeremy W. Crampton

Blackwell Publishing was acquired by John Wiley & Sons in February 2007.

Blackwell’s publishing program has been merged with Wiley’s global Scientific, Technical, and Medical business to form Wiley-Blackwell.

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For details of our global editorial offices, for customer services, and for information about how to apply for permission to reuse the copyright material in this book please see our website at

The right of Jeremy W. Crampton to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except as permitted by the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, without the prior permission of the publisher.

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Designations used by companies to distinguish their products are often claimed as trademarks. All brand names and product names used in this book are trade names, service marks, trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The publisher is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold on the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services. If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Crampton, Jeremy W.

Mapping: a critical introduction to cartography and GIS/Jeremy W. Crampton.

p. cm. – (Critical introductions to geography)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-1-4051-2172-9 (hardcover: alk. paper) – ISBN 978-1-4051-2173-6 (pbk.: alk. paper) 1. Cartography-Computer programs. 2. Geographic information systems.

I. Title.

GA102.4.E4C73 2010b 526—dc22


A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.


I was first asked to do this book several years ago but due to other projects I very luckily turned it down – I can’t imagine how relevant this book would be if it had been completed before the radical changes in mapping brought about through Google Earth and the geoweb! So I first thank J. P. Jones and the editorial staff at Blackwell (especially Justin Vaughan and Ben Thatcher) for asking me to reconsider and for being so patient. I first wrote about the Peters world map controversy in the early 1990s, assisted by Francis Herbert of the Royal Geographical Society who found an original copy of Gall’s Easy Guide to the Constellations at a book stall in London, and helped me access Gall’s correspondence at the RGS. For the new material in this book I am grateful to Trevor Gould at the Carrubber’s Christian Centre in Edinburgh for previously unpublished internal documents on the Rev. James Gall, and to Bob Abramms of ODT Inc. for a DVD of Arno Peters’ last interviews. Additionally, David Livingstone provided me with information on the Preadamites and their relationship to racial discourses. David Woodward and Dalia Veranka both shared with me many of their memories of Brian Harley, and Matthew Edney taught me much about Harley, Woodward, and the history of cartography. I’m glad to count them as my friends. The many spirited conversations I’ve been privileged to have with Denis Wood over the last 15 years have benefited me enormously. My biggest single intellectual debt is to John Krygier whom I first met in graduate school and who has been a constant source of intellectual provocation ever since.

Geoffrey Martin, AAG archivist and professor emeritus, Southern Connecticut State University, generously opened up his home to me and provided me with many of his privately collected documents (in some cases now the only extant copies after the American Geographical Society destroyed many of its own records). His insider knowledge of Anglo-American geography was recently recognized by the American Geographical History Award from the AAG. Archivists at Yale, Eastern Michigan University, Johns Hopkins, the American Geographical Society Library, and the National Archives were instrumental in orienting me to their material and maximizing my visits.

Several artists who experiment and work with maps kindly shared their work with me, including Deirdre Kelly, Robert Derr, Nik Schiller, Steven R. Holloway, Matthew Knutzen and kanarinka (Catherine D’Ignazio). Thanks to Ed Dahl for the picture of Brian Harley.

John Pickles’ contributions to mapping need no introduction. John has been a good friend and generous colleague. I’d like to thank him, Eric Sheppard, and Tom Poiker for organizing the Friday Harbor meetings in 1993.

Kara Hoover provided me with a backstop against my more egregious anthropological errors. Any that remain are the result of my own shortcomings.

Some parts of Chapters 1 and 2 appeared in an earlier form in ACME: The Journalfor Critical Geographies. Chapter 6 draws from material previously published in Cartographica, while an earlier version of Chapter 8 appeared in the Geographical Review. I would like to thank the editors and publishers of these journals for their generosity in allowing me to use this material.

I dedicate this book to my father, William George Crampton (1936–97), who nearly 40 years ago took me on hikes across Offa’s Dyke and Hadrian’s Wall and taught me how to read an Ordnance Survey map.



April 2009


1.1The field of tension in mapping2.1All Is Vanity (1892). A woman in front of her “vanity” (make-up table) or a grinning death mask? This famous optical illusion was drawn by the American artist Charles Allan Gilbert2.2Power of Maps Smithsonian catalog, brochure, and children’s activity kit2.3Surrealist map of the world [Paul Eluard?] 1929. Source: Waldberg (1997)3.1Turnout and race in Philadelphia. Source: Bill Cooper, Used with permission4.1The shadow metaphor explanation of projections. Source: Greenhood (1964). © 1964 by the University of Chicago. Used with permission4.2Ojibwe (Native American) map, c. 1820, detail (top) and Nuttall Screenfold Pre-Conquest Mixtec map (bottom). Source: Ojibwe map drawn by John Krygier, used with permission. Nuttall Screenfold © Trustees of the British Museum, used with permission4.3The Martin Behaim Globe (1492). From the American Geographical Society Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries4.4Juan de la Cosa’s map of the world, c. 1500. Columbus’s discoveries are indicated on the left-hand side5.1Shannon’s 1948 schematic of a general communication system. Source: Redrawn from Shannon (1948)5.2Simplified map communication model6.1The first known choropleth map, 1826, by Baron Charles Dupin. Source: photograph from Dupin 18276.2Density of the “Constitutional Population” in Walker’s Atlas (detail). Source: photo by author, Plate 19 (Walker 1874)6.3Inquiry Document 893 “A Preliminary Survey” (no date but probably late July 1918). Source: FRUS 1942–7, Vol. I, 206.4Mackinder’s pivot or heartland map. Source: Mackinder (1904)6.5Disputed international borders; the “linguistic line,” the line proposed by the Inquiry, and the line proposed by Italy. Source: NARA RG256, Entry 55 Italy6.6Part of Armin Lobeck’s map of the Istrian Peninsula. Specially prepared for the Inquiry, this map shows the level of care and detail taken. Source: NARA RG256, Entry 456.7Detail of Armin Lobeck block diagram map. Source: NARA RG256, Entry 457.1Newton Abbot on the 6-inch Ordnance Survey map. Source: Harley (1987)7.2J. Brian Harley in 1988. Photo courtesy of Ed Dahl. Used with permission7.3The Rev. James Gall. Source: Annual Reports of Carrubber’s Christian Centre. Used with permission7.4The Peters Projection or World Map. Source: www.ODTmaps. © 2005, Akademische Verlagsanstalt7.5Flyer for Harley’s 1991 talks at Penn State (designed by John Krygier). Source: John Krygier. Used with permission8.1“River Bend View: Visit 14, 20 November 2004, 30 Seconds.” Steven R. Holloway. Used with permission9.1A view down one of the “spokes” or corridors in the Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia. Source: photograph by author (2006)9.2Surveillance Camera Players performing in front of public surveillance camera. Source: Surveillance Camera Players (2006)10.1USENET Logical Map, June 1, 198110.2A humorous take on the geography of the web. Source: xkcd.com10.3All time most popular tags as recorded at the photographic site Reproduced with permission of Yahoo! Inc. © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. Flickr and the Flickr logo are registered trademarks of Yahoo! Inc.10.4Global internet connectivity, by Chris Harrison (left). Detail of Europe (right). Source: Chris Harrison, Carnegie Mellon University. Used with permission11.1Illustration of monstrous races in India from Sebastian Munster Cosmographiae Universalis 1544 (page 1080)11.2Above: Gustav Kombst racial map of Europe, 2nd edition 1856. Right: detail of the UK. Used by permission of David Rumsey Map Collection11.3Map of the colored population of the USA. Source: Walker (1874)11.4Dominian’s mapping of language distributions in the Austro-Hungarian region during World War I. Source: Dominian (1917)11.5BiDil, the first “race-based drug” approved by the FDA. Source: AP. Used with permission12.1Scenes from “Funerals for a Moment” by kanarinka 2004. Photos by Joshua Weiner. Used with permission12.2Imperial Federation Map of the World Showing the Extent ofthe British Empire in 1886. Photo courtesy of Newberry Library.Used with permission12.3Detail, Imperial Federation Map of the World Showing theExtent of the British Empire in 1886. Photo courtesy of theNewberry Library. Used with permission12.4Top: “Credit” by Deirdre Kelly. Bottom: “Credit” detail.Source: Deirdre Kelly used with permission of the artist.Color original12.5Catherine Reeves, “The Equinational Projection.” Source: Globehead! 1, 1994, pp. 18–19. Used with permission


5.1Harley’s discourse of opposites. Source: adapted from Harley (1989b) 578.1Periodization of the GIS and Society debate. Source: adapted from Schuurman (2000, 2002) 10011.1Changing categories of race in the American census at selected dates. Source: Adapted from Tables 1 and 2 in Nobles (2000), US Census Bureau 147

About the Cover: Size Matters

The cover shows a map of the world’s population created by Mark Newman. 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. China and India – which alone have about one-third of the world’s population – are of course huge, but so also are Indonesia and Nigeria. The United Nations predicts that by 2050 Nigeria will be the fifth biggest country in the world, up from 15th in 1950. 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. Interestingly South America comes through relatively unscathed and is the closest to “normal” maps. The blue line representing the equator also reveals another rather startling fact: the “global North” is by far the more highly populated half of the planet; the hemispheres are far from equal. The map is also good at suggesting reasons for regional geopolitics: look at the sizes of the Ukraine, Turkey, or Ethiopia for example.

Cartograms can be made from many kinds of data, and Newman and his colleague Danny Dorling have produced maps of people living with HIV/Aids, spending on healthcare, GDP, CO2 emissions, and maps of the US election by number of voters.

Finally, it’s irresistible to compare the cartogram to the playful surrealist map in Chapter 2. On what basis is that map drawn?

Chapter 1

Maps – A Perverse Sense of the Unseemly

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. If you open any of today’s prominent textbooks on cultural, political, or social geography it is more than likely that you will find little or no discussion of mapping, cartography, or GIS. A recent and well-received book on political geography for example (Jones et al. 2004) makes no mention of maps in any form, although it is subtitled “space, place and politics.” Similarly, Don Mitchell’s influential book on cultural geography and the precursor to the series in which this book appears (Mitchell 2000) deals at length with landscape, representation, racial and national geographies, but is completely and utterly devoid of the role of mapping in these important issues (and this despite Mitchell’s call for a “new” cultural geography that does not separate culture from politics!). And while a book on Key Concepts in Geography (Holloway et al. 2003) can state that “geographers have . . . studied the ways in which maps have been produced and used not only as objects of imperial power but also of postcolonial resistance” (Holloway et al. 2003: 79) the subject is then quietly dropped. Yet is it the fault of these authors – accomplished scholars – that maps and mappings are not considered part of larger geographical enquiry?

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