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Critical cartography

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Title: Critical cartography  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: John Pickles, Critical theory, Cartography, Counter-mapping, John Brian Harley
Collection: Cartography, Critical Theory
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Critical cartography

Critical Cartography is a set of new mapping practices and theoretical critique grounded in critical theory. It differs from academic cartography in that it links geographic knowledge with power, and thus is political. The term critique defines not just a simple analysis and rejection of concepts or practices.

Critical cartographers do not aim to invalidate maps instead the critique is careful analysis of maps identifying attributes of the maps that are taken for granted. The eventual hope is to better understand the maps and gain more knowledge.

Current state of critical cartography

Since the 1991 death of J.B Harley, formerly a professor in Geography at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, the field of cartography has flourished with theories and writing that identify maps as social issues and expressions of power and knowledge. Leading figures that have picked up where Harley left off include Denis Cosgrove, Denis Wood, Jeremy Crampton, John Krygier, and Kevin St. Martin. Maps are now viewed as potential sites of power and knowledge. They are sources of knowledge of geography, places and people. The aim of Critical Cartography is to reduce the gap between a more technically oriented map design and a more theoretically analysis of power in society.

See also


  • Crampton, Jeremy W. and John Krygier. 2006. "An Introduction to Critical Cartography"
  • Pickles, John. 2004. A History of Spaces. Routledge.
  • Wood, Denis. 1992. The Power of Maps, New York/London, The Guilford Press.
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