front cover of Cartographies of Travel and Navigation
Cartographies of Travel and Navigation
Edited by James R. Akerman
University of Chicago Press, 2006

Finding one’s way with a map is a relatively recent phenomenon. In premodern times, maps were used, if at all, mainly for planning journeys in advance, not for guiding travelers on the road. With the exception of navigational sea charts, the use of maps by travelers only became common in the modern era; indeed, in the last two hundred years, maps have become the most ubiquitous and familiar genre of modern cartography.

Examining the historical relationship between travelers, navigation, and maps, Cartographies of Travel and Navigation considers the cartographic response to the new modalities of modern travel brought about by technological and institutional developments in the twentieth century. Highlighting the ways in which the travelers, operators, and planners of modern transportation systems value maps as both navigation tools and as representatives of a radical new mobility, this collection brings the cartography of travel—by road, sea, rail, and air—to the forefront, placing maps at the center of the history of travel and movement.

Richly and colorfully illustrated, Cartographies of Travel and Navigation ably fills the void in historical literature on transportation mapping.


front cover of Decolonizing the Map
Decolonizing the Map
Cartography from Colony to Nation
Edited by James R. Akerman
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Almost universally, newly independent states seek to affirm their independence and identity by making the production of new maps and atlases a top priority. For formerly colonized peoples, however, this process neither begins nor ends with independence, and it is rarely straightforward. Mapping their own land is fraught with a fresh set of issues: how to define and administer their territories, develop their national identity, establish their role in the community of nations, and more. The contributors to Decolonizing the Map explore this complicated relationship between mapping and decolonization while engaging with recent theoretical debates about the nature of decolonization itself.
These essays, originally delivered as the 2010 Kenneth Nebenzahl, Jr., Lectures in the History of Cartography at the Newberry Library, encompass more than two centuries and three continents—Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Ranging from the late eighteenth century through the mid-twentieth, contributors study topics from mapping and national identity in late colonial Mexico to the enduring complications created by the partition of British India and the racialized organization of space in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. A vital contribution to studies of both colonization and cartography, Decolonizing the Map is the first book to systematically and comprehensively examine the engagement of mapping in the long—and clearly unfinished—parallel processes of decolonization and nation building in the modern world.

front cover of The Imperial Map
The Imperial Map
Cartography and the Mastery of Empire
Edited by James R. Akerman
University of Chicago Press, 2009
Maps from virtually every culture and period—from Babylonian world maps to Saul Steinberg’s famous New Yorker cover illustration, “View of the World from 9th Avenue”convey our tendency to see our communities as the center of the world (if not the universe) and, by implication, as superior to anything beyond these immediate boundaries. Mapping has long been a tool by which ruling bodies could claim their entitlement to lands and peoples. It is this aspect of cartography that James R. Akerman and a group of distinguished contributors address in The Imperial Map.
Critically reflecting on elements of mapping and imperialism from the late seventeenth century to the early twentieth century, the essays discuss the nature of the imperial map through a series of case studies of empires, from the Qing dynasty of China, to the Portuguese empire in South America, to American imperial pretensions in the Pacific Ocean, among others. Collectively, the essays reveal that the relationship between mapping and imperialism, as well as the practice of political and economic domination of weak polities by stronger ones, is a rich and complex historical theme that continues to resonate in our modern day.

front cover of Mapping Nature across the Americas
Mapping Nature across the Americas
Edited by Kathleen A. Brosnan & James R. Akerman
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Maps are inherently unnatural. Projecting three-dimensional realities onto two-dimensional surfaces, they are abstractions that capture someone’s idea of what matters within a particular place; they require selections and omissions. These very characteristics, however, give maps their importance for understanding how humans have interacted with the natural world, and give historical maps, especially, the power to provide rich insights into the relationship between humans and nature over time. That is just what is achieved in Mapping Nature across the Americas. Illustrated throughout, the essays in this book argue for greater analysis of historical maps in the field of environmental history, and for greater attention within the field of the history of cartography to the cultural constructions of nature contained within maps. This volume thus provides the first in-depth and interdisciplinary investigation of the relationship between maps and environmental knowledge in the Americas—including, for example, stories of indigenous cartography in Mexico, the allegorical presence of palm trees in maps of Argentina, the systemic mapping of US forests, and the scientific platting of Canada’s remote lands.

front cover of Maps
Finding Our Place in the World
Edited by James R. Akerman and Robert W. Karrow Jr.
University of Chicago Press, 2007
Maps are universal forms of communication, easily understood and appreciated regardless of culture or language. This truly magisterial book introduces readers to the widest range of maps ever considered in one volume: maps from different time periods and a variety of cultures; maps made for divergent purposes and depicting a range of environments; and maps that embody the famous, the important, the beautiful, the groundbreaking, or the amusing. Built around the functions of maps—the kinds of things maps do and have done—Maps confirms the vital role of maps throughout history in commerce, art, literature, and national identity.

The book begins by examining the use of maps for wayfinding, revealing that even maps as common and widely used as these are the product of historical circumstances and cultural differences. The second chapter considers maps whose makers employed the smallest of scales to envision the broadest of human stages—the world, the heavens, even the act of creation itself. The next chapter looks at maps that are, literally, at the opposite end of the scale from cosmological and world maps—maps that represent specific parts of the world and provide a close-up view of areas in which their makers lived, worked, and moved.

Having shown how maps help us get around and make sense of our greater and lesser worlds, Maps then turns to the ways in which certain maps can be linked to particular events in history, exploring how they have helped Americans, for instance, to understand their past, cope with current events, and plan their national future. The fifth chapter considers maps that represent data from scientific instruments, population censuses, and historical records. These maps illustrate, for example, how diseases spread, what the ocean floor looks like, and how the weather is tracked and predicted. Next comes a turn to the imaginary, featuring maps that depict entire fictional worlds, from Hell to Utopia and from Middle Earth to the fantasy game World of Warcraft. The final chapter traces the origins of map consumption throughout history and ponders the impact of cartography on modern society.

A companion volume to the most ambitious exhibition on the history of maps ever mounted in North America, Maps will challenge readers to stretch conventional thought about what constitutes a map and how many different ways we can understand graphically the environment in which we live. Collectors, historians, mapmakers and users, and anyone who has ever “gotten lost” in the lines and symbols of a map will find much to love and learn from in this book.

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