Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Book - The Map Reader


Mapping and maps as the contextual representation and abstraction of an environment is a very diverse, complicated and very challenging disciplin. With the current ongoing trend of spatialisation the understanding and suitable interpretation , but also creation of maps has become more important.

Martin Dodge presents together with Rob Kitchin and Chris Perkins The Map Reader: Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation, a Wiley-Blackwell publication. With this substantial reader the editors are presenting a very comprehensive discussion of the topic in five section: Conceptualising Mapping, Technologies of Mapping, Cartographic Aesthetics and Map Design, Cognition and Cultures of Mapping and Power and Politics of Mapping.

Imhof Laufen Relief Shading
Image taken from linkingelephants / Relief shading example by Eduard Imhof showing a detail map of Laufen.

On these topics the editors brought together a very prominent list of contributors. This ranges from Bruno Latour, Eduard Imhof, David Harvey to Mei-Po Kwan, to name a few. The over fifty specially edited excerpts from key, classic articles and monographs are introduced carefully and with a lot of detail.

The editors not only introduces each section with a specific essay to introduce the topic, but also each essay or book exert. This explains where it comes from and what the wider context is of the tet to follow. Further more each essay is accomplished with references, but also a list of further reading, plus a list of publication internal links 'see also'. This refers the reader to related chapters in the same book extending or continuing the discussion. It would have been nice to have page numbers with this section to make it more convenient for the reader to directly jump between the chapters.

Mapping is currently a dramatically fast changing field and with the introduction and extensive use of new technologies it probably even speeds up. Maps are dynamic, online, interactive and probably crowd sourced these days.

The publication acknowledges these changes without being drawn into the buzzyness of these developments, providing key readings and background information. Some of these texts are quite old. Only a dozen or so were originally written this century. However, this provides a substantial background with a lot more relevance than simply having some bibliographical references. In this publication one has the real thing the editors are referring to. Somehow it is like reading a text, plus also reading the references as they are discussed.

This makes for a tour de force of mapping, but mainly provides what the book is promising, an 'coherent edited compendium of key scholarly writing about the changing nature of cartography over the last half century'.

The publisher offers chapter pdf's of the book for download on their Wiley-Blackwell page.

Imhof Laufen Relief Shading
Image taken from the view from the blue house / The Map Reader Book Cover.


Dodge, M., Perkins, C. & Kitchin, R. eds., 2011. The Map Reader: Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

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