Cover image for The new nature of maps : essays in the history of cartography
The new nature of maps : essays in the history of cartography
Harley, J. B. (John Brian)
Personal Author:
Johns Hopkins paperbacks edition.
Publication Information:
Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.

Physical Description:
xv, 331 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
"Published in cooperation with the Center for American Plates, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Harrisonburg, Virginia."
Texts and contexts in the interpretation of early maps -- Maps, knowledge, and power -- Silences and secrecy: the hidden agenda of cartography in early modern Europe -- Power and legitimation in the English geographical atlases of the eighteenth century -- Deconstructing the map -- New England cartography and the Native Americans -- Can there be a cartographic ethics?
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Material Type
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GA201 .H37 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this collection of essays J. B. Harley (1932-1991) draws on ideas in art history, literature, philosophy, and the study of visual culture to subvert the traditional, "positivist" model of cartography, replacing it with one that is grounded in an iconological and semiotic theory of the nature of maps. He defines a map as a "social construction" and argues that maps are not simple representations of reality but exert profound influences upon the way space is conceptualized and organized. A central theme is the way in which power--whether military, political, religious, or economic--becomes inscribed on the land through cartography. In this new reading of maps and map making, Harley undertakes a surprising journey into the nature of the social and political unconscious.

Author Notes

J. B. Harley lectured in historical geography at the Universities of Liverpool and Exeter before moving to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His ideas on the meaning of maps have influenced not just geographers and map historians but also students of art history and literature

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This collection pulls together some of the most important essays in the history of cartography by the late Brian Harley (1932-1991), an elegant writer and seminal thinker in the field. It is useful to have them all together, particularly as Harley died without completing his big book, The Map as Ideology. He applies the ideas of the deconstructionists to maps, both considering them as "texts" and as social constructions reflecting power relationships, rather than as objective mirrors of physical reality. In one essay he discusses distortions, silences, and marginal features of maps; in another how the early maps of New England served the colonial powers by "erasing" the presence of the Native Americans. As assembled now, the essays are (inevitably) dated and rather repetitive if read straight through, and it is too bad that in the introductory essay J.H. Andrews did not deal with subsequent scholarship instead of nitpicking at Harley's work. The illustrations are well chosen but in many cases too small to truly illustrate the points being made. Scholars in many fields will find these essays illuminating. Upper-division undergraduates and above. E. Edson Piedmont Virginia Community College

Table of Contents

Introduction: Meaning, Knowledge, and Power in the Map Philosophy of J.B. HarleyJ. H. Andrews
1 Text and Contexts in the Interpretation of Early Maps
2 Maps, Knowledge, and Power
3 Silences and Secrecy: The Hidden Agenda of Cartography in Early Modern Europe
4 Power and Legitimation in the English Geographical Atlases of the Eighteenth Century
5 Deconstructing the Map
New England Cartography and the Native Americans
7 Can There Be a Cartographic Ethics