‘A Form of Cartophobia’

Benjamin Hennig calls on social scientists to “rediscover maps and other forms of geographical visualization”:

It is interesting to consider how far the discipline of human geography appears to have distanced itself from maps over recent times, resulting almost in a form of cartophobia. Several papers over the last years showed a decline in map use and mapping practices in high-profile geographic journals. Cartographic skills as a natural expertise of a geographer seems to have vanished in many places, as have the theoretical and practical elements of geographic data visualization. Do many geographers ‘prefer to write theory rather than employ critical visualizations’, as Perkins (2004: 385) notes?

Best Maps from the Journal of Maps

TJOM_Best_Map_2015Since 2008 the online Journal of Maps has been giving an award to the “best map” published in its virtual pages; 2015’s winner is a map of municipalities in the Czech Republic created by Vít Pászto, Alžběta Brychtová, Pavel Tuček, Lukáš Marek and Jaroslav Burian for their article “Using a fuzzy inference system to delimit rural and urban municipalities in the Czech republic in 2010.” Past winners are available for purchase as prints (of various sizes). [via]

The Journal of Maps launched in 2005. I believe it was open-access at that point; since coming under the umbrella of Taylor & Francis in 2012, it no longer appears to be.

Adventures in Academic Cartography

Pulling back the academic veil can be fascinating. I remember one day 25 years ago in my first year of university, when my history professor paused to tell us about his current research project (a biography of an early 20th-century French politician). For a half hour he held the class rapt as he detailed the long effort required to nail down one specific detail in his subject’s life. For me it was a revelation: history was detective work, and therefore exciting stuff. That may have been the moment that sent me to graduate school in history (and not just me—that professor generated more graduate students than anyone else in that department).

monmonier-adventures I was reminded of that day as I was reading Mark Monmonier’s memoir, Adventures in Academic Cartography, which does much the same thing as my prof did back then: pull back the veil to reveal an entire academic career that was hidden from our view. Monmonier is a familiar name to those of us interested in maps, having published a dozen books—scholarly, erudite but accessible to the lay reader—over the years. (I’ve reviewed three of them myself: How to Lie with Maps, his essential text on how maps persuade and deceive; Rhumb Lines and Map Wars, a look at the politicization of the Mercator projection; and From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow, on the politics and controversies behind place names.) But, like my professor, we are largely aware of only one aspect of his career: in Monmonier’s case, the books. Adventures in Academic Cartography, which he self-published in the fall of 2014, fills in the blanks.

Continue reading “Adventures in Academic Cartography”

Dubrovnik Symposium

The 6th International Symposium on the History of Cartography will be held in Dubrovnik, Croatia in October 2016. “The joint organizers invite contributions (papers and posters) on the dissemination of cartographic knowledge and the effectiveness thereof in diverse cartographic cultures and their related user groups around the globe. This includes the technological and conceptual aspects of cartographic production (maps, charts, globes, atlases, educational tools etc.), the usability of these techniques and the resulting products, as well as the conditions of the map trade as a changing network of private enterprises and official institutions, and the role of diverse audiences in the creation, circulation, consumption and ultimate preservation of knowledge.” Deadline for submissions is February 15. [via]

Monmonier on Critical Cartography

Mark Monmonier has posted an essay sharply critical of critical cartography and its distance from its own subject. It was originally commissioned as part of the forthcoming Cartographic Grounds but cut for reasons of space. Very incisive; I could quote you some but I’d end up quoting the whole damn essay. Go read. [via]