On cartography, geopolitics and meaning.

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky gorojovsky at SPAMinea.com.ar
Sun May 14 10:57:03 MDT 2000


Julio P shares my view that cartography reflects geopolitics. Yes,
indeed. Maps are not iconic representations of the world. They are
highly generalized symbolic aggregates, where the culture and world
vision of the map maker is embedded. By the way, this view is not a
discovery by myself, but by an Argentinian political writer, Arturo
Jauretche, who I am sure you will be very fond to read. By the way,
how can one discover if any of the things by Jauretche is available
in the USA?

If one takes a world map made in Europe, one will see that Europe
lies at the center of the map (London). If one takes a world map made
in the USA, one will see that it is the USA that lie in the center.
And if one takes a world map made in Japan, one will see Tokyo in
that important place. Nothing like this happens in Latin America,
where we ape cartographic usages and "conventions" (there is always a
Convention behind each convention, and at Conventions it is relations
of power that put order in the chaos) generated in the First World.

If we could have a look at a world map made with Latin America in the
center, and we additionally turned the map "upside down" (but there
is not "up and down" in space, so why does North lie "_up_ there" and
South "_down_ here"?) we discover spatial relationships that are
hidden to our mind. In fact, this is a useful exercise that automated
cartographic software allows anyone to do (there is a very cheap and
easy-to-use cartographic program, Versamap, which with some training
allows you to portray Planet Earth in many, most interesting, ways).

One may also have a look at the planet from Latin America putting the
West "downwards", that is minimizing the visual incidence of the
Pacific, which for the time being is a desert of water from our point
of view, and new relations are surprisingly at hand.

But all of this implies not to ape imperialist cartographers any
more.

Well, enough of this arid class on cartography and meaning!





Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at inea.com.ar





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