Cartographies of Travel and Navigation

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

Finding one’s way with a map is a relatively recent phenomenon. In premodern times, maps were used, if at all, mainly for planning journeys in advance, not for guiding travelers on the road. With the exception of navigational sea charts, the use of maps by travelers only became common in the modern era; indeed, in the last two hundred years, maps have become the most ubiquitous and familiar genre of modern cartography.

Examining the historical relationship between travelers, navigation, and maps, Cartographies of Travel and Navigation considers the cartographic response to the new modalities of modern travel brought about by technological and institutional developments in the twentieth century. Highlighting the ways in which the travelers, operators, and planners of modern transportation systems value maps as both navigation tools and as representatives of a radical new mobility, this collection brings the cartography of travel—by road, sea, rail, and air—to the forefront, placing maps at the center of the history of travel and movement.

Richly and colorfully illustrated, Cartographies of Travel and Navigation ably fills the void in historical literature on transportation mapping.
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About the author

James R. Akerman is director of the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography at the Newberry Library, Chicago.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Nov 15, 2010
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Pages
344
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ISBN
9780226010786
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / North America
Science / Earth Sciences / Geography
Science / General
Technology & Engineering / Cartography
Transportation / Navigation
Travel / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Almost universally, newly independent states seek to affirm their independence and identity by making the production of new maps and atlases a top priority. For formerly colonized peoples, however, this process neither begins nor ends with independence, and it is rarely straightforward. Mapping their own land is fraught with a fresh set of issues: how to define and administer their territories, develop their national identity, establish their role in the community of nations, and more. The contributors to Decolonizing the Map explore this complicated relationship between mapping and decolonization while engaging with recent theoretical debates about the nature of decolonization itself.

These essays, originally delivered as the 2010 Kenneth Nebenzahl, Jr., Lectures in the History of Cartography at the Newberry Library, encompass more than two centuries and three continents—Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Ranging from the late eighteenth century through the mid-twentieth, contributors study topics from mapping and national identity in late colonial Mexico to the enduring complications created by the partition of British India and the racialized organization of space in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. A vital contribution to studies of both colonization and cartography, Decolonizing the Map is the first book to systematically and comprehensively examine the engagement of mapping in the long—and clearly unfinished—parallel processes of decolonization and nation building in the modern world.
Since that ancient day when the first human drew a line connecting Point A to Point B, maps have been understood as one of the most essential tools of communication. Despite differences in language, appearance, or culture, maps are universal touchstones in human civilization.

Over the centuries, maps have served many varied purposes; far from mere guides for reaching a destination, they are unique artistic forms, aides in planning commercial routes, literary devices for illuminating a story. Accuracy—or inaccuracy—of maps has been the make-or-break factor in countless military battles throughout history. They have graced the walls of homes, bringing prestige and elegance to their owners. They track the mountains, oceans, and stars of our existence. Maps help us make sense of our worlds both real and imaginary—they bring order to the seeming chaos of our surroundings.

With The Curious Map Book, Ashley Baynton-Williams gathers an amazing, chronologically ordered variety of cartographic gems, mainly from the vast collection of the British Library. He has unearthed a wide array of the whimsical and fantastic, from maps of board games to political ones, maps of the Holy Land to maps of the human soul. In his illuminating introduction, Baynton-Williams also identifies and expounds upon key themes of map production, peculiar styles, and the commerce and collection of unique maps. This incredible volume offers a wealth of gorgeous illustrations for anyone who is cartographically curious.
The twentieth century was a golden age of mapmaking, an era of cartographic boom. Maps proliferated and permeated almost every aspect of daily life, not only chronicling geography and history but also charting and conveying myriad political and social agendas. Here Tim Bryars and Tom Harper select one hundred maps from the millions printed, drawn, or otherwise constructed during the twentieth century and recount through them a narrative of the century’s key events and developments.

As Bryars and Harper reveal, maps make ideal narrators, and the maps in this book tell the story of the 1900s—which saw two world wars, the Great Depression, the Swinging Sixties, the Cold War, feminism, leisure, and the Internet. Several of the maps have already gained recognition for their historical significance—for example, Harry Beck’s iconic London Underground map—but the majority of maps on these pages have rarely, if ever, been seen in print since they first appeared. There are maps that were printed on handkerchiefs and on the endpapers of books; maps that were used in advertising or propaganda; maps that were strictly official and those that were entirely commercial; maps that were printed by the thousand, and highly specialist maps issued in editions of just a few dozen; maps that were envisaged as permanent keepsakes of major events, and maps that were relevant for a matter of hours or days.

As much a pleasure to view as it is to read, A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps celebrates the visual variety of twentieth century maps and the hilarious, shocking, or poignant narratives of the individuals and institutions caught up in their production and use.
In Rhumb Lines and Map Wars, Mark Monmonier offers an insightful, richly illustrated account of the controversies surrounding Flemish cartographer Gerard Mercator's legacy. He takes us back to 1569, when Mercator announced a clever method of portraying the earth on a flat surface, creating the first projection to take into account the earth's roundness. As Monmonier shows, mariners benefited most from Mercator's projection, which allowed for easy navigation of the high seas with rhumb lines—clear-cut routes with a constant compass bearing—for true direction. But the projection's popularity among nineteenth-century sailors led to its overuse—often in inappropriate, non-navigational ways—for wall maps, world atlases, and geopolitical propaganda.

Because it distorts the proportionate size of countries, the Mercator map was criticized for inflating Europe and North America in a promotion of colonialism. In 1974, German historian Arno Peters proffered his own map, on which countries were ostensibly drawn in true proportion to one another. In the ensuing "map wars" of the 1970s and 1980s, these dueling projections vied for public support—with varying degrees of success.

Widely acclaimed for his accessible, intelligent books on maps and mapping, Monmonier here examines the uses and limitations of one of cartography's most significant innovations. With informed skepticism, he offers insightful interpretations of why well-intentioned clerics and development advocates rallied around the Peters projection, which flagrantly distorted the shape of Third World nations; why journalists covering the controversy ignored alternative world maps and other key issues; and how a few postmodern writers defended the Peters worldview with a self-serving overstatement of the power of maps. Rhumb Lines and Map Wars is vintage Monmonier: historically rich, beautifully written, and fully engaged with the issues of our time.
In the nineteenth century, Americans began to use maps in radically new ways. For the first time, medical men mapped diseases to understand and prevent epidemics, natural scientists mapped climate and rainfall to uncover weather patterns, educators mapped the past to foster national loyalty among students, and Northerners mapped slavery to assess the power of the South. After the Civil War, federal agencies embraced statistical and thematic mapping in order to profile the ethnic, racial, economic, moral, and physical attributes of a reunified nation. By the end of the century, Congress had authorized a national archive of maps, an explicit recognition that old maps were not relics to be discarded but unique records of the nation’s past.

All of these experiments involved the realization that maps were not just illustrations of data, but visual tools that were uniquely equipped to convey complex ideas and information. In Mapping the Nation, Susan Schulten charts how maps of epidemic disease, slavery, census statistics, the environment, and the past demonstrated the analytical potential of cartography, and in the process transformed the very meaning of a map.

Today, statistical and thematic maps are so ubiquitous that we take for granted that data will be arranged cartographically. Whether for urban planning, public health, marketing, or political strategy, maps have become everyday tools of social organization, governance, and economics. The world we inhabit—saturated with maps and graphic information—grew out of this sea change in spatial thought and representation in the nineteenth century, when Americans learned to see themselves and their nation in new dimensions.

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