Maps are guided by power, not truth

Navigating the future with critical cartography

We look to maps for guidance, helping us to navigate the world as effectively as possible. But are maps as neutral and objective as we think? Cultural geographer Mike Duggan argues that what goes on the map – and who decides – has a significant impact on our lives that we often don’t notice.

 

In the popular TV show The West Wing, White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman have their minds blown after it is revealed to them that maps can distort real geographies. After being shown a Gall-Peters projection map, where the map more accurately represents the real size of countries compared to the older and more popular Mercator projection map that we are all accustomed to, both are visibly dismayed at the notion that Greenland is not as big as they thought, actually fourteen times smaller than Africa despite appearing comparable, and that Germany was in simply the wrong place.

Maps claim to show a view from now

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