On cartography, geopolitics and meaning.

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMtao.ca
Sun May 14 19:18:01 MDT 2000

----- Original Message -----
From: Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky <gorojovsky at inea.com.ar>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>

> 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.

The map I keep on my wall is an official map devised by the Canadian
government in 1989. The official name of the states represented are as
recognised by Canada. There is no Taiwan, for example, but there is a
Peoples Republic of China. Slightly scandolous is the inclusion of
"Democratic Kampuchea". Remember, this 1989, a full decade after "The
Democratic Republic of Vietnam" had driven the Saloth Sar (Pol Pot)
government out.
There are no Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia on this map.

There could not be a map that wasn't political. What does it mean when my
friends have a map where Taiwan is a different colour than the PRC? This map
has one very interesting feature: It is coloured according to the standard
of living: Pink means states where all the basic needs are met for the bulk
of the populace, yellow represents partial development, and Red are
countries such as Haiti and Sierra Leone. Interesting to note, the only
non-imperialist countries in pink are, yes, that's right: Socialist. I'd
like to see the similar map colours of East Europe today.


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