the art + science of seeing
issue 8 Cartography
the art + science of seeing TM
GLIMPSE issue 8 presents perspectives on the history and human experience of mapping, at varying scales. This issue considers how the symbolic definition of real and imagined boundaries expressed in maps, may both expand and constrain human understanding.
C O N T E N T S issue 8
Selected Dates in European, Islamic and Chinese Cartography
Borrowed Borders Cartographic Leverage from Empires to Zip Codes
From Sextant to SatNav Building a 3-D map of the human heart
RETROSPECT A Map of the Open Country of Womanâ€™s Heart... Georgia B. Barnhill
Katherine Fletcher, Peter Kohl and Denis Noble
Esther Howe with Meghan Oâ€™Reilly and Connie Wang
Narrative Cartographies Creating an atlas as a novel
Losing And Finding Our Way A conversation about cognitive mapping and orientation with neuroscientist Giuseppe Iaria Rachel Sapin with introduction by Carolyn Arcabascio
Reorganizing Space, Negotiating Identity The use of placenames in ordinary conversation Lisa Gabbert
The Literary Terrain of Mark Twain and the Mississippi Rachel Sapin
Many Rivers and Kara’s Wave Matthew Cusick
62 74 supplementary illustrations and videos the Cartography issue playlist the GLIMPSE blog
Cartography and Humanism Concordances and discordances Yi-Fu Tuan
(Re)views Meghan O’Reilly
(front and back covers) Many Rivers, 2009 Inlaid maps, acrylic, on panel 48 x 78 inches © 2011 Matthew Cusick Image courtesy of the artist
Contributors GLIMPSE www.glimpsejournal.com
Georgia Barnhill has been at the American Antiquarian Society since the fall of 1968 and was the curator of the graphic arts department from 1969 to 2009. During those many years, she lectured and published extensively on aspects of the Society’s print and illustrated book collections for audiences in the US and abroad. Among her recent accomplishments is a definitive descriptive bibliography of books and articles on American prints of the 18th and 19th centuries. As director of the Center for Historic American Visual Culture, she places the demystification of images for historians and others at the center of a number of activities.
Elbie Bentley is a PhD student in Geography at the University of South Carolina. She received a master’s degree in Geography from Ohio University and BAs in Geography and German Literature from San Francisco State University. Her primary research interest is in the development of innovative cartographic design techniques that work to restore cultural and historical voice to the map. She is currently a cartographer at the US Geological Survey, and also enjoys creating innovative map designs using combinations of
hand-drawn, watercolor and digital techniques in her free time.
Matthew Cusick is an artist captivated with the geography of American culture. Muscle cars, massive freeways, manicured golf courses and notorious killers have been recurrent themes in his work. Cusick was born in New York City where he earned his BFA from The Cooper Union in 1993. His work is held in numerous public and private collections including the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art and the Progressive Art Collection and has garnered international praise through numerous blogs and traditional media such as The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New Yorker, and National Public Radio. He currently lives in North Texas.
Katherine Fletcher is a project manager working for the University of Oxford. She is currently helping coordinate the EC-funded Virtual Physiological Human Network of Excellence and the JISCfunded DataFlow project (building open-source tools to help researchers keep and share their data). She also coordinated the EC-funded preDiCT project (2008-2011), which developed state-of-the-art cardiac electrophysiology models. She grew up in
Gretna, Nebraska, graduated from William Jewell College (Liberty, MO) with a BA in International Relations, and the University of Sussex (Brighton, UK) with an MA in Global Political Economy. She now lives in Oxford.
Lisa Gabbert holds a PhD from Indiana UniversityBloomington in Folklore and American Studies. She is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Associate Director of the Folklore Program at Utah State University. Her research interests are in landscape and place, festivity and play, and medical folklore. Her book, Winter Carnival in a Western Town: Identity, Change, and the Good of the Community (2011), ethnographically examines various discourses about community good as they play out in the Mardi Gras parade, sports competitions and snow sculpture events found in McCall, Idaho’s annual Winter Carnival.
Giuseppe Iaria is Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Dr. Iaria has conducted behavioral and neuro-imaging studies in both healthy individuals and brain-damaged patients and in different academic/ research locations such as the
Mark Monmonier is editor of Cartography in the Twentieth Century, which will be published in 2015 as Volume Six of The History of Cartography.
Denis Noble, CBE, FRS, is Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology at the University of Oxford. He was Chairman of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) World Congress in 1993, Secretary-General of IUPS from 1993-2001 and is now President of IUPS. His previous publications include the seminal set of essays, The Logic of Life (Boyd and Noble, Oxford University Press, 1993), and he played a major role in launching the Physiome Project, one of the international components of the systems biology approach. Science magazine included him amongst its review authors for its issue devoted to the subject in 2002.
Yi-Fu Tuan is professor emeritus of geography at the University of WisconsinMadison, and the author of twenty books, the most recent being Coming Home to China (2005), Human Goodness (2008), and Religion: From Place to Placelessness (2010). He is currently working on Humanists Geography: An Individual’s Search for Meaning.
Peter Kohl studied Medicine and Biophysics at the Moscow Pirogov Institute (1981-1987) and, after post-graduate training and research at the Berlin Charité (PhD 1990, Facharzt 1991), he joined the Cardiac Electrophysiology Chair group of Professor Denis Noble at Oxford (1992). In 1998, Peter set up at Oxford the Cardiac Mechano-Electric Feedback Lab, initially as a Royal Society Research Fellow, and subsequently as a Senior Fellow of the British Heart Foundation. While at Oxford, he held a Research Fellowship at Keble College (2002-2004) and was the Tutorial Fellow in Biomedical Sciences at Balliol (2004-2010). Since 2010, he is also an Affiliated Senior Fellow of the Oxford Department of Computer Science. In October 2010, Peter has taken up the Chair in Cardiac Biophysics and Systems Biology at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London.
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada), the University of Rome “La Sapienza” (Rome, Italy), the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and Le College de France (Paris, France). He is the director of NeuroLab (www.neurolab. ca), a cognitive and clinical neuroscience laboratory that is mainly focusing on investigating human spatial cognition.
GLIMPSE Team Megan Hurst Founder, Editor Carolyn Arcabascio Acquisitions Editor Rachel Sapin Editorial Assistant, Staff Writer Arto Vaun Staff Poet Allison Nonko Editorial Intern, GLIMPSE Blog Connie Wang Intern Esther Howe Intern Meghan O’Reilly Intern Adjunct + Alumni Christine Madsen Cofounder, Editor (Europe)
Ivy Moylan Contributor, Film Reviews EmComm: Viviana Soto + Melissa Boss Marketing + Communications Account Managers Anthony Owens Photographer Matthew Steven Carlos Editorial Advisor Nicholas Munyan Consulting Designer Jamie Ahlstedt Logo Design
GLIMPSE PO Box 44 Salem, MA 01970 USA ISSN 1945-3906 www.glimpsejournal.com
FROM THE EDITOR
ver millennia, humans have expressed their innate navigational tendencies in an ever-evolving art and science of mapmaking. As the horizon drew early explorers, documentarians and cartographers to survey the shape of the earth, today’s boundaries continue to draw us further, whether to the edges of the universe (see GLIMPSE issue 5, Cosmos), or the cells of the human body. GLIMPSE issue 8, Cartography, presents perspectives on the history and human experience of mapping. The topic of cartography is far too expansive to adequately represent in the pages of just one journal issue, so we defer the burgeoning field of Geographic Information Systems to a future GLIMPSE issue. We instead start with an illuminating timeline of selected dates in European, Islamic and Chinese cartography. Arto Vaun records the nexus of self, family, and society in his poem of an intergenerational, migratory atlas. Maps can indeed illuminate human experience and narratives. Imbued with authority, they can assert power, possibly even aid in the enforcement of it. They can also mislead, as Mark Monmonier demonstrates in his article, “Borrowed Borders.”
Cartographer Elbie Bentley re-conceptualizes the map as novel, depicting the journey of the 19th-century Western US survey expedition of Captain Gunnison. We go on to consider the nano-cartography of the heart, by Katherine Fletcher, Peter Kohl and Denis Noble. Georgia Barnhill reveals the navigational pitfalls of another heart—“the open country of the woman’s heart” as illustrated more than 100 years ago. Giuseppe Iaria, in turn, explains to GLIMPSE’s Rachel Sapin how we physically orient ourselves in the world with our own mental maps. They discuss what is left to learn about our internal “geographic information systems.” Lisa Gabbert guides us through the tensions between local and externallyimposed names for the places we know best, as experienced by the residents of McCall, Idaho. Finally, Yi-Fu Tuan shows us areas of overlap and divergence between cartography and humanism. As always, we welcome your input and comments on this issue, and hope you enjoy your journey reading Cartography!
Megan Hurst GLIMPSE journal is an independent,
periodical of contemporary research, thinking and expression from leading
We wish to thank luminary map collector David Rumsey for his early input on contributors
and emerging scholars, scientists and
for this issue, and for his generosity in digitizing and sharing his collections with map enthu-
artists about vision, “the visual” and
siasts and researchers worldwide through his website, http://www.davidrumsey.com
Music to read GLIMPSE issue 8 by... Life is a Highway (Summer version), Tom Cochrane
Cartography Let’s Get Lost, Chet Baker
Atlas Road Map, Lee “Scratch” Perry Altitude, Matt Flinner
Latitude, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones Maps, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Cartographer, Casette Everyplace is a House, Maps & Atlases Map of the Problematique, Muse Armchairs, Andrew Bird Wanderin’ Aheym, The Red Sea Pedestrians Migration, Arve Henriksen Amateur Cartography, Obfusc World Rotates, Esoin Atlas (Skinzi’s Off the Map Mix), Finn Peters Lost in this World, Netsky Next Stop Nowhere Pt. 1 & Pt. 2, Andrew Philippov Lost Where I Belong (Flying Lotus Remix), Andreya Triana Lost in the World, Kanye West Solid Ground, Maps & Atlases Across the Map (featuring J-Live), Chali 2na Up in the Air, Next Stop: Horizon
You can never get lost (when you’ve nowhere to go), Piano Magic
500 BC-999 AD 1000-1499 AD
ca. 350 BC Aristotle publishes On the Heavens. In it, he critiques earlier theories and contends that the Earth is spherical. 239 BC The oldest known Chinese map
is created, from the period of the Warring States (475-221 BC). It is a drawing of Guixian County of the Qin Kingdom, one of the seven major warlords at the time. The map, drawn in black, covers four pine plates, 23 cm long, 17 cm wide and 1.5 cm thick each, and depicts geographical, administrative, and economic information.
183-168 BC The second-oldest known Chinese maps, created during the Han Dynasty, are a topographic map, a military map, and a prefecture map. The maps are composed of ink on silk and are discovered in the early 1970s at Mawangdui, a tomb located in what is now Changsha, China.
1020-1050 The Book of Curiosities is created in Egypt by an anonymous scholar. In 2002, the only surviving copy is acquired by the Bodleian Library and remains the earliest example of a map carrying a scale. ca. 1080-1152 English philosopher,
Adelard of Bath lives. He translates many Arabic works on astronomy and astrology into Latin and bases his own scholarship on Arabic science.
1086 The earliest surviving Islamic map
is created and accompanies ibn Hawqal’s “Picture of the Earth” text, later found in the Topkapi Sarayn Muzcsi Kutuphancsi in Istanbul.
ca. 150 Greek philosopher, geographer and astronomer Claudius Ptolemy publishes Syntaxis or Almagest, establishing that the sun and other planets rotate around a fixed, spherical planet Earth. This geocentric model would remain preeminent until the mid-16th century. He also authors Cosmogeographia (later called Geographia), which includes a 27-map world atlas. His maps all contain lines of longitude, with the prime meridian at the Canary Islands. Today, the prime meridian runs through London. 200s Mathematician Liu Hui describes contemporary Chinese surveying practices in his Sea Island mathematical manual.
1100 Al-Idrisi is born in Ceuta, Morocco and, after his education in Cordoba and lengthy travels around the world, he is invited to study in the court of the Norman King of Sicily, Roger II (1097-1154). Drawing from Ptolemy, the Balkhi School, and information from European travelers in King Roger’s court, al-Idrisi creates Nuzhat al-Mushtaq Fi’Khtiraq alAfaq—a cross-cultural cartographic masterpiece and the product of 15 years of research and travel. 1143 Robert of Chester, an English scholar, translates the works of al-Khwaraizimi, a scholar from alMa’mun’s time (r. 813-833), in effect introducing algebra to European scholars.
ca. 548 St Lactantius, a Christian rhetorician from Alexandria, publishes Christian Topography, an exhaustive explanation of the universe according to the Bible. Interpreting scriptures literally, the book denounces those who believe the world is round. 610 The Prophet Muhammad receives the first revelations of the Quran. Two years later, he begins to preach. 630 Muhammad captures Mecca. After Muhammad’s death in 632, instruments are developed to calculate the direction of Mecca to aid devotees in their prayers. 695 The Muslim postal service is inaugurated, incidentally contributing to cartographic knowledge, as those working for the service gain substantial geographic knowledge through their travels. 1271 Italian Marco Polo travels by land to China. His memoirs become the foundation for European knowledge of the “Far East” for centuries. 1300s For the first time in both Islamic and European history, maps are made that reflect longitudinal and latitudinal calculations. ca. 1389 (Ming Dynasty) The Great Ming Amalgamated Map or Da Ming Hun Yi Tu, a world map made of colored pigment on silk, is created, placing China at the center and compressing areas of limited geographically-available knowledge. The map represents Mongolia and Java at the North and South, Japan at the East, and Africa and Europe at the West.
1200s The production of maps continues across the Islamic world, both in the tradition of Ptolemy and of al-Balkhi.
1500s Al-Idrisi’s maps are utilized heavily in Tunisia because they are some of the only Islamic maps that detail the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas. 1522 Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigates the world, proving it to be round. 1543 Nicolaus Copernicus publishes On the Revolution of the Celestial Orbs, proposing a heliocentric universe. 1569 Gerardus Mercator invents the Mercator Projection which compensates for the East-West distortion in maps. 1583 Jesuit missionaries Matteo Ricci and Michele Ruggieri establish a mission at Zhaoqing Prefecture. They used Europeanstyle cartography to impress Chinese dignitaries with the advances of European and Christian civilization, hoping to influence leaders to convert to Christianity.
1592 Selection of al-Idrisi’s scholarship is printed in Rome 1600 Al-Idrisi’s scholarship is translated into Italian 1619 Al-Idrisi’s scholarship is translated into Latin and published 1600s Modern European cartography begins to replace pre-Modern Islamic cartographic knowledge 1667 Isaac Newton publishes Principia, which proves that the Earth is in fact an oblate spheroid that bulges at the equator.
1714 The British Parliament enacts its “Longitude Act of 1714”, offering a king’s ransom of £20,000 to whoever could solve “the longitude problem” which befuddles European astronomers, geometers, and navigators. While latitude lines are fixed parallels, lines of longitude are located at variable geographic distances, and are therefore much harder to locate. 1735 English clockmaker John Harrison invents the first marine chronometer. This revolutionary portable time piece divined longitude by measuring time at sea, which varied from time at the home port. Harrison did not claim his rightful longitude prize until 1774, when the dubious scientific elite finally acknowledged the ingenuity of the “simple mechanic.”
786-809 During the reign of caliphate Harun al-Rashid, scholars in Baghdad procure Greek manuscripts in Byzantium. Their focus shifts away from Indian and Hindi scholarship and towards the works of Greek Ptolemy. Arab scholars translate and begin to fact-check Ptolemy’s scholarship.
850-934 Born in 850, al-Balkhi is eventually referred to by European scholars as the “founding father” of the Balkhi School—a group of cartographers notable for their simple, stylized maps that focus on the territory of the Islamic Empire and do not adhere to longitude and latitude scales. The maps made by Balkhi and his followers utilize measurements such as “a day’s journey,” and are accompanied by descriptive text regarding the towns, landmarks, and residents of each area. The Balkhi tradition is markedly different from the previous Ptolemaic style.
813-33 Caliphate Al-Ma’mun commissions the construction of a world map, hoping to display his geographic knowledge and confirm the scope of his power. Ptolemy’s calculations and the Persian geographical system of Kishvars heavily influence this project, and the final product represents a rare occasion in which Arab scholars ? -1406 Arab historian, Ibn Khaldun used al-Idrisi’s book for his section on geography.
1400-1477 Ptolemaic geography proliferates in Europe as it is first translated into Latin, and then becomes a popular subject for printers. 1405-1435 Chinese muslim admiral Zheng He explores the world by naval fleet. 1418 The Marvelous Visions of the Star Raft is published in China, documenting Zheng He’s naval exploration. An accompanying map shows He’s journey, and depicts the world as round.
ca. 1763 a map signed by Mo Yi Tong
(carbon-dated with 80% certainty to between 1640 and 1810) portends to be a copy of a 1418 map of Zheng He’s explorations, as “a general chart of the integrated world,” which (if not fraudulent) may prove that Zheng He did “discover” the Americas before Christopher Columbus.
1789 Jean-Dominique Cassini finishes the “Cassini map” of France, drawing upon the observations and research completed by four generations of Cassinis before him. It is the first detailed national map, and the first to use the survey method of triangulation.
1421 According to a contraversial hypothesis advanced by amateur historian Gavin Menzies, Zheng He discovers North America from the west coast in 1421. 1448 The Venetian senate commissions a world map from mapmaker Fra Mauro. Competed in 1453, it is the earliest “modern” European world map, and denotes a renewed interest in Ptolemy’s scientific pursuits.
858-929 Al-Battani makes groundbreaking astronomical observations and measurements that greatly improve upon Greek scholarship and, years later, influence Europeans like Copernicus. 900s In The Book of the Constellations of the Fixed Stars, al-Sufi records over 1,000 stars and 48 constellations. Drawing on Babylonian, Indian and Bedouin traditions, al-Sufi depicts Cassiopeia as a woman with a camel beside her.
Late 1400s /early 1500s Cartography of the Ottoman Empire develops as a direct reflection of the Empire’s imperial efforts and relies on a combination of pre-modern Islamic sources and European sources.
1492 Christopher Columbus hastily adopts Ptolemy’s scholarship, incorrectly converts Arabic miles into Italian miles, and sails westward in search of a passage between Europe and Asia. Instead, he arrives at the east coast of North America.
1800s “Orientalist” Jaubert translates al-Idrisi’s scholarship into French under the title Geographie d’Edirisi. 1815 William Smith publishes the first national geologic map. Originally a coal miner, his observations of strata across England gave rise to his Principle of Faunal Succession, which establishes that the age of fossils can be determined by their horizontal position in an outcrop. 1866-1873 Dr. Livingstone conducts surveys in Africa. His maps exposed vast regions and natural wonders, such as Victoria Falls, to the Western World. 1884 The Berlin Conference formalizes “the Scramble for Africa,” by allotting specific regions in Africa to certain European countries. The boundaries between traditional African nations are ignored by colonial powers.
1941 Waddington Ltd., a British printing company, produces silk maps for the military. Light and compactable, they gave soldiers stranded behind enemy lines a means of escape. 1959 US satellite Explorer 6 takes the first photograph of Earth from space. 1976 The space-oblique Mercator projection is developed by Americans John P. Snyder, Alden Partridge Colvocoresses and John L. Junkins. The projection is a mathematical formula that reduces distortion when satellite images are converted to flat maps.
Selected Dates in European, Islamic and Chinese Cartography
translate their geographic calculations into a comprehensive work of cartography. Al-Khwarazimi, one of al-Ma’mun’s most well-known scholars, corrects Ptolemy’s longitudinal calculation of the Mediterranean Sea.
by Esther Howe with Meghan O’Reilly and Connie Wang
754-74 Scholars from around the world study and collaborate in Baghdad under the reign of Al-Mansur. Arab scholars borrow astronomical knowledge from Indian and Hindi sources, which serve as the basis for their future cartographic practices.
Selected Dates in European, Islamic and Chinese Cartography BIBLIOGRAPHY Ahmad, S. Maqbul. 1992. Cartography of al-Sharif al-Idrisi. In The History of Cartography: Volume 2, Book 1: Traditional and South Asian Societies, eds. J.B. Harley and David Woodward, 156-174. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ahmed, Sayed Akheel. 2008. Islam and Scientific Enterprise. New Delhi, India, I.K. International Publishing House Pvt. Ltd. Al-Khalili, Jim, 2011. The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance. New York: The Penguin Press. Armstrong, Karen. 2002. Islam: A Short History. New York, Random House. Barber, Peter. 2005. The Map Book. New York: Walker.
Christine. 2008. Flat Earth: The History 10 Garwood, of an Infamous Idea. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Harley, J. B. and and David Woodward, eds. 2001. The History of Cartography, Volume 2, Book 2: Cartography in the Traditional East and Southeast Asian Societies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Hopkins, J. F. P. 1990. Geographical and navigational literature. In Religion, Learning and Science in the ‘Abbasid Period, eds. M. J. L. Young, J. D. Latham and R. B. Serjean, 301-324. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hsin Fei. 1996. Hsing-ch’a-sheng-lan: the overall survey of the star raft. Volume 4 of South China and maritime Asia. Wiessbaden: Harrassowitz. Hsu, Mei-Ling. 1978. The Han Maps and Early Chinese Cartography, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Mar., 1978), pp. 45-60 Karamustafa, Ahmet T. 1992. Introduction to Islamic Maps. In The History of Cartography: Volume 2, Book 1: Traditional and South Asian Societies, eds. J.B. Harley and David Woodward, 3-11. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Levathes, Louise. 1996. When China ruled the seas: the treasure fleet of the Dragon Throne, 14051433. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rapaport, Youssef and Emilie Savage-Smith. 2008. The Book of Curiosities and a Unique Map of the World in Cartography in Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Fresh Perspectives, New Methods, ed. Richard J. A. Talbert and Richard W. Unger, 121138. The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. Short, John Rennie. 2003. The World Through Maps: A History of Cartography. New York: Firefly Books Ltd. Sobel, Dava and William J. Andrewes. 1998. The Illustrated Longitude: The story of a lone genius who solved the greatest scientific problem of his time. New York: Walker. Swetz, Frank J. 1992. The Sea Island Mathematical Manual: Surveying and Mathematics in Ancient China. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press. Tibbetts, Gerald R. 1992. The Beginnings of a Cartographic Tradition. In The History of Cartography: Volume 2, Book 1: Traditional and South Asian Societies, eds. J.B. Harley and David Woodward, 90-107. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Tibbetts, Gerald R. 1992. The Balkhi School of Geographers. In The History of Cartography: Volume 2, Book 1: Traditional and South Asian Societies, eds. J.B. Harley and David Woodward, 108-136. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Tibbetts, Gerald R. 1992. Later Cartographic Developments. In The History of Cartography: Volume 2, Book 1: Traditional and South Asian Societies, eds. J.B. Harley and David Woodward, 137-157. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Toy, Mary-Anne. January 16, 2006. Old map found in a Shanghai shop may rewrite history’s voyages of discovery, The Age. Accessed September 2011 at http://www.theage.com.au/ articles/2006/01/15/1137259945225.html Winchester, Simon. 2001. The Map that Changed the World. New York: Harper Collins.
issue 8 Cartography
Now Available Now Available
Atlas Vertebra Our insides, my family, are made of crumpled bits Of atlases umber Anatolian Church dust and Boston winters all crammed In the margins around the wrinkled world inside These bodies palpitating keys to useless maps The shivers we get then are prehistoric Are damp echoes of staggering steps perhaps we are The click of the heel on the floor Look at the places we find ourselves while losing Each fiber of what we hoped would emerge From the waters of our years air-thin flakes Is all I can imagine it as
Fools are we and brave as red mud The ache of walking forward is the glow Of the moons we have swallowed whole Just to work in textile factories and gas stations Just to say this is something now This is something
by Arto Vaun
issue 8 Cartography
Kurtarici Kilisesi (Church of the Redeemer), Ani, Western Armenia/Eastern Turkey. Photograph ÂŠ2010, by Kwang Meng Tan. Image courtesy of the photographer.
Cartographic Leverage from Empires to Zip Codes
uch of the map’s leverage—a
and delineating lines that reflect the new goals,
far better physical science
and the borrowed borders leverage the familiar-
ity and prestige of the lines adopted.
boundary lines that restrict where people can go or what they can do. Whoever draws the lines exerts enormous leverage insofar as delineating a boundary is far easier than erecting a fence or wall. And because maps work so well as navigation tools, they’ve earned a reputation for truthfulness and authority that makes us respect their lines, or at least feel a mite anxious when we consciously ignore them in a burst of exuberance, entitlement or outright civil disobedience. Another form of cartographic leverage occurs when boundaries devised for one purpose are adopted for something else—the mapmaker avoids the tedious tasks of stating goals
(above) Territorial claims and year-round research stations of Antarctica. Oriented with Greenwich meridian at the top. Scale 1:68,000,000. Image courtesy of Central Intelligence Agency, 2005 (right) Image courtesy of CIA World Factbook (far right) Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory
Borrowed borders can be as simple as the allels used to frame world and regional reference maps, or as geometrically intricate as the boundary network on a large-scale soils map. In the former case, the Earth’s spherical grid, a geometric framework for fixing location and charting courses, provided Europe’s colonial rulers with a convenient way to claim territory on other continents. example is the wholesale partition of Africa
in the late 19th century, when meridians and parallels as well as rivers became colonial boundaries. Although
these lines often cut through tribal territory or put squabbling factions under the same colonial
most of them survived the post-World War II independence
ment because postcolonial governments were reluctant to cede territory to a neighbor or recognize the distinctiveness of small, comparatively weak ethnic groups. Elements of the graticule were also borrowed for the international border between Canada and the United States (the 49th parallel from Minnesota to the Salish Sea); the straight-line portion of the boundary between Alaska and Yukon Territory (the meridian at 144° W); and the pie-slice
The most egregious
Argentina’s Antarctic sector is bounded on the west by a whole-number meridian (74°W) just west of the westernmost reach of its border with Chile and on the east by a whole-number meridian (25°W) just east of the South Sandwich Islands. The Falklands (known to Argentinians as the Islas
graticule of whole-number meridians and par-
Malvinas) lie within this sector but north of 60°S, the northern boundary of its Antarctic claim. Argentina’s national maps portray the Islas Malvinas, the South Sandwich Islands, the South Orkney Islands, and the South Georgia Islands as a natural northerly extension of its Antarctic claim.
John Smith, Virginia, 1612. John Smith’s famous 1612 has north at the right. While in the New World, Smith began the first mapping of Maryland after two expeditions up the Chesapeake Bay in 1608. There is an inset of Powhatan in the upper left corner and the Indian is standing in Pennsylvania. ‘Chesapeack Bay’ lies at the center of the map and the ‘Saƒquefabanough flu’ (Susquehanna River) is shown emptying into it. A village of the same name is shown above ‘Smyths fales’ and the right side of the map has a large figure of an Indian given the name. This figure is based on the Indian chief who came down the river to meet with Smith. Underneath is written “The Saƒquefahanougs are a Giant like people thus atyred.” The locations of several villages are shown with little huts in what would be Pennsylvania. This map would be imitated with increasing detail for the next 75 years. This image is from the Library of Congress copy which is state 6 from 1624. Image and caption courtesy of the Library of Congress, Huntingfield Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-101.
territorial claims to Antarctica asserted be-
astronomers Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon
tween 1908 and 1942. Although the Ant-
set to work demarcating the line with monuments
arctic Treaty of 1959 put these claims on
a mile apart.
ice in the interest of international scientific cooperation, Argentina exploited its sec-
This new boundary became a second-generation
tor boundaries as an excuse for its ill-fated
borrowed border in the years before the Civil
attempt to (re)take the Falkland Islands in
War when politicians and journalists adopted it
1982, and continues to use its sector claim
as the unofficial dividing line between the North
as a symbol of national pride.
and South. Although Maryland remained a Union state, historians and the media continued to treat the Mason-Dixon line as a meaningful cultural
as the boundary between Maryland and
divide through most of the following century and,
Pennsylvania led to a border dispute be-
to some degree, still today.
tween the two colonies in the early 1730s. Land grants to Lord Baltimore and William
Airspace and Power in the 20th Century
to the 40th parallel, as represented by marginal tick-marks on a 1608 map by John
Land boundaries added another dimension when
Smith, the first European to systematically
the world’s nations conveniently extended their
explore the Chesapeake Bay. Smith’s in-
sovereignty skyward in the early 20th century.
accurate estimate of
The issue of who controlled
airspace was largely moot as
and his successors had they
to mark the boundary. Hostilities began after Maryland officials belatedly
latitude with a sextant, sought to collect taxes from
residents south of 40° N, and dared call Philadelphia “the finest city in Maryland.” The dis-
the world’s nations conveniently extended their sovereignty skyward in the early 20th century
late as 1910, when delegates from 18 countries met in Paris for the first International Conference on Aerial Navigation. France and Germany equated the skies with the high seas, to which all ships without hostile intentions enjoyed free access, while Britain claimed the right to restrict flying over its homeland and colonial territories. World War I solidified the British position by demonstrating the efficacy of aerial
pute was resolved in
surveillance and bombing. The
1750 when the Crown
first aeronautical charts were
reattached the border
annotated topographic maps
to a parallel 15 miles south of Philadelphia
cut into strips, and the first restricted areas were
at 39° 43’ N. Fourteen years later, English
national borders borrowed to enhance national
Penn had anchored their shared boundary
Easy appropriation of a line of latitude
security. From these rudimentary origins aeronautical charting evolved to produce, reproduce and regulate national airspace. Several years ago, while working on a book on prohibitive cartography, I sought out early maps of flight restrictions. The Air Commerce Act of 1926 authorized the US Coast and Geodetic Survey to compile and distribute air navigation charts, but the earliest restrictive symbols merely warned pilots away from hazards like transmission lines and gunpowder factories. The
l m ht
Air Commerce Bulletin for April 15, 1935 included
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I T jou P I R pse C S im B From 90210 to 26581: SU w.gl ZIP Code as Identity w //w
a historic map showing a no-fly zone around government buildings in downtown Washington.
This followed a temporary restriction imposed two years earlier when the Bulletin for March 1,
1933 designated “the air space over the [entire] District of Columbia...as a prohibited area from 9
a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 4, 1933, for public safety
18 purposes.” On the occasion of Franklin
Roosevelt’s first inauguration, this forerunner of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Temporary Flight Restrictions relied on D.C.’s borrowed border.
Map delineating zip code boundaries in the United States. Image courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey, 1970.
During the Cold War, municipal boundaries throughout
Department retaliate against the Soviet Union
p t t h
for closing large parts of its territory to American
Size matters insofar as counties and towns are usually
travelers. Similar to Soviet restrictions based on
too large and internally diverse for retailers eager for a
administrative units, the US closures consisted of a
geographic sort that mirrors our buying habits. It’s hardly
list of individual counties and entire states, thereby
surprising, then, that marketing strategies and rate structures
forcing the Russians to make the map themselves,
are based on ZIP Code areas, which are neither so numerous
as we willingly did with their restrictions, to
as to be unwieldy nor so large as to be demographically,
inform travelers as well as underscore Soviet
economically or culturally irrelevant. Established in 1963
secretiveness. Borrowed borders made it easy for
to expedite the delivery of mail—ZIP stands for Zone
either party to shrink, expand or otherwise tweak
Improvement Program—our postal precincts offer a
its list of closed areas—why bother to draft and
convenience, stability and ready recognition lacking in
print a new map when the constituent boundaries
census tracts, wards or vaguely defined city neighborhoods.
were so readily available?
Every residential mailing address has a compact, easily
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s Y m/ L ON l.co N rna O I US Census was taken in 1790, ufirstthan T Tjohemore P a year after the inauguration I e R of President George Washington. At the time, s C p the census basically divided a population that S m B i was under 4 million into free white males who were of or younger than military age (16), SU w.gl free white females, all other free persons, and w slaves. Today, the Census has evolved to map w a much larger demographic that includes over //
memorized five-digit ZIP Code; and
should you forget, it’s right there on your driver’s license.
p t t h
It’s hardly surprising that the ZIP Code map has been re-purposed for the
more efficient targeting of consumers by catalog retailers and telemarketers, assisted by demographic research firms like Claritas Corporation, which devised the PRIZM (Potential Rating Index by ZIP Markets) segmentation system in the early 1970s, which characterizes each ZIP Code according to five “lifestyle clusters” assumed
300 million diverse Americans. 2010 Census results have even recently revealed that well over half of America’s cities are now majority non-white. Other significant trends noted from the 2010 US Census are that the US population is increasingly shifting toward the South and West. According to the US Census Bureau, the center of the US population has continued to move westward ever since the first census. In 1790, the center of the population was in Chestertown, MD. Today, the center of the population is in Plato, MO.
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he PRIZM (Potential Rating Index by ZIP Market) categorization system is based on geodemographics, or the premise that people who live close to each other will be demographically similar to each other as well. The PRIZM has categorized US neighborhoods into 62 “lifestyle clusters” based on this idea. The clusters are created from public sources such as US Census data as well as private sources, such as consumer purchase records. Each US neighborhood is assigned to one of the PRIZM clusters according to the current year’s demographic projections. Neighborhoods are defined by factors such as social rank, household composition, mobility, ethnicity, urbanization, and housing. The neighborhood clusters prove useful to marketers interested in targeting products to specific individuals.
PRIZM “lifestyle clusters” and the US Census
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T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I T jou P I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w / /
Soils map of Middlesex County, MA. Image courtesy of USDA/NRCS
to reflect key segments of its population. And
to gainfully employed African Americans
it’s no surprise that Beverly Hills 90210, which
trying to buy homes in deteriorated but
lent its name to a 1990s television series about
promising neighborhoods. In the mid-
teenagers in an affluent Los Angeles suburb, is
1990s, for instance, an automobile rental
home to segments labeled Blue Blood Estates,
firm in Syracuse, New York blacklisted the
Money & Brains, Movers & Shakers, Upper Crust,
13205 and 13207 ZIP Codes by refusing
p t t h
and Young Digerati. By contrast, Littleton 26581,
to rent to residents irrespective of their
in West Virginia, described euphemistically by
credit rating or driving record. Although
the clusters Back Country Folks, Blue Highways,
the policy affected both African American
and white residents, it was quickly
Pleasures, receives few if any catalogs from
perceived as racial discrimination, and city
upscale retailers like Talbot’s and The Shaper
officials rightly retaliated by pulling city
contracts and restricting the firm’s access
to the local airport. Ubiquitous and cartographically convenient, ZIP Code boundaries were occasionally borrowed for
The convenience of typing people by
a form of geographic discrimination as invidious
postal address led to a wide misuse of ZIP
as the red-lining once used to deny mortgages
Code maps in setting auto insurance rates.
Although many states have outlawed the practice,
surveys created for a different purpose. Landfill
insurers that compile claims data by ZIP Code argue
opponents recognized this and mounted a val-
that the cost of insuring against accidents, theft
iant legal challenge, the premise of which was
and vandalism depends on our neighbors’ claims
twofold. They argued that because the aerial
histories as well as our own.
map slightly distorted scale and distances in hilly areas, the county needed to commission a new
The Perils of Cartographic Precision
map, mathematically exact and relevant to the proposed landfill. They also pointed to the presence of “inclusions” (small patches of another soil type within a larger patch) that undermined
different type of boundary: the lines separating map-
both the homogeneity of mapping units and the
ping units on soils maps. Painstakingly delineated by
county’s position that only about 43 percent of
scientists who often spend years walking a county’s
the contested parcel contained protected “Type
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I or Type II soils.” In the end,
the surface with an auger and col-
an administrative law judge
lecting samples for lab analysis,
sided with the county by con-
the soils map partitions the land
firming that the existing soils
into mapping units as small as a
map, however flawed, was
few acres. Although the map cate-
legally binding. In so ruling,
gories were devised to reflect soil
he underscored the economic
genesis, they provide a detailed
picture of the land’s suitability for
not the scientific wisdom—of
various commercial crops as well
cartographic leveraging with
as septic tanks and basements.
Because the categories reflect
agricultural potential for commercial crops, they
Borrowing borders exploits existing boundaries
can be combined to produce a map of agricultural
and public acceptance of maps as reliable and
productivity, which in turn provides a rational basis
legitimate. Boundaries readily available at multiple
for preserving farmland by giving farmers a break on
: p t t
levels can provide convenient, off-the-shelf
their property taxes.
borders for a range of goals. At the macro level,
New York state took farmland preservation a step
continents or declare no-fly zones, while at the
further by prohibiting local governments from using
micro level, soils maps and postal codes can be
eminent domain to acquire land for a landfill when
configured into plausibly efficient environmental
meridians and parallels stand ready to partition
the preponderance of the parcel in question is prime
and sociocultural regions. In between are
farmland. I learned of this policy a decade ago when
provincial and municipal boundaries, expediently
our local “resource recovery agency,” which is re-
appropriated even when the well-known territories
sponsible for disposing of the county’s trash, sought
they bind are peripheral to the mapmaker’s goals.
to open a landfill for ash from its new incinerator.
Map users should be wary of borrowed borders
Both the agricultural conservation law and the solid
as the cartographic embodiment of the notorious
waste management act in New York deferred to soil
quick-and-dirty short cut. w
T . N e the existing NTE crib s soils map,CO ub s Y / L however m N flawed, o c O - legally l. was a N rn IO binding u T IP sejo R SC imp B SU w.gl w w / /
fields and forests, probing below
Environmental regulations often borrow a radically
he ability of maps and atlases to be read as sources of amusement
has long been confined by their reputation as mere reference texts. What would a map look like if it were designed in such a way that it could be used as a place to tell an engaging spatial story, and if such maps were incorporated serially
Narrative Cartographies Creating an atlas as a novel by Elbie Bentley into an atlas that could be read as a novel? Narrative cartography allows us to break the traditional conceptions of map and atlas as locations of dull scientific fact, and reshapes cartography as a technique capable of presenting engaging graphical narratives that can be used creatively to illuminate stories of the past. The westward expansion of the American territories during the early nineteenth century marked the beginning of an era of reconnaissance through scientific exploration and documentation. A significant component of these explorations was the surveys conducted for the construction of a transatlantic railway, an exploit undertaken by the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers in 1853. Of the six surveys, the Gunnison-
(Figure 1) Each two-page map spread is designed to be read from right to left following the expedition from east to west across each page. Maps are then sequenced within the atlas so it can be read, page to page, like a novel. ÂŠ 2011 the author. Image courtesy of the author.
Beckwith expedition survey produced a particularly intriguing report containing adventure, illustration and topographic presentation. Despite the historical importance and remarkable content of these reports, which were considered the largest source of geographical information on the West during this era, they remain largely unknown to the public today. These reports provided me with an opportunity to extend theories of cartographic narrative into practice, reportâ€™s separate elements into a cohesive presentation, culminating in Railroad (1853-1854), presented in part here (Figure 1). In recent decades we have changed the way we view cartographic representations and we have begun to approach them in more creative and informed ways. The guise of maps as objective purveyors of scientific information has been lifted, revealing maps as powerful tools of persuasion that operate using specific sets of cultural norms.1 Western cartographic tradition, which promotes strictly positivist conceptions of space, no longer hinders map making practices; maps have been liberated as locations capable of illustrating infinite new and creative representations of space.2
(Figure 1, continued) The illustrations on this and the previous pages are designed to be read from right to left following the expedition from east to west across each page. Maps are then sequenced within the atlas so it can be read, page to page, like a novel. ÂŠ 2011 the author. Image courtesy of the author.
Atlas of Explorations for the Pacific
weaving together the Gunnison-Beckwith
Over the past few decades several authors have
cartographic symbols can been used to produce a
explored ideas of narrative cartography, each
similar narrative within the map. Narratives are not
demonstrating the potential of narrative forms
generic, but they can be structured in a particular
to represent stories within the map and atlas.
way: thus, narratives are made up both of the events that take place, and by the way in which
J. B. Harley was first to call for a narrative
these events are told or presented. By structuring
cartography in his influential article “Historical
these two elements into the symbols of the map,
Geography and the Cartographic Illusion.”
we can tell a story as well as encode cultural
Maps, he suggested, if considered as texts in the
perspective and human experience.2, 5
broader sense, can be used to portray a process, tell a story, and, when presented in tandem,
I brought these notions of cartographic narrative
they can also reveal the human relationship with
to life, realized both as atlas and map, in Atlas of
space. By looking at maps more imaginatively,
Explorations for the Pacific Railroad (1853–1854).6
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I u T o P j RI pse C S im B SU w.gl w w // Here we have an historical expedition atlas that
tistical abstractions of the past” and thus better
tells the story of the Gunnison-Beckwith survey for
represent historical subjects. Though he himself
the Pacific Railroad. This survey, which was one of
never brought these ideas into life in the map,
six conducted to locate potential trans-continental railroad routes, produced an intriguing report of the
they have since given rise to various notions of
narrative cartographies under other authorship.
26 Denis Wood has also explored the idea GLIMPSE www.glimpsejournal.com
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“we can mediate humanity rather than the sta-
American West.7 While most notable for the tragic events surrounding Captain Gunnison’s death at
the hands of Natives, this survey also produced an
of reshaping the atlas into the form of a
exceptional collection of topographic illustrations
pleasurable novel. Through careful sequencing
beautifully depicting the country through which the
and juxtaposition as a group of interrelated
railroad would pass. In addition to their exceptional
pieces, each playing a role in the meaning of the
contents, the format of the reports was key to their
atlas as a whole, he suggests, maps in an atlas
success, for it combined text, image, panorama
can work in unison, just as a group of paragraphs
and map in an interconnected presentation that
can work to produce the narrative of a novel.
contextualized each piece within the greater
The atlas is thus transformed from a pile of
geographical story. In the original Pacific Railroad
dull reference maps into a sequence of maps
Reports, text, illustration, data and map were
: p t t
that can be read following the linear nature of
separate elements scattered across twelve volumes
the narrative; page by page, like a captivating
intended to be read together by flipping back and
mystery novel. He, too, developed these
forth. Though separated from each other within the
innovative ideas, but never was able to put them
organization of the reports themselves, elements
to work in the form of a cartographic project.
were linked by location in the accompanying series
of maps, and, when viewed in context, worked Margaret Pearce has demonstrated that by
together to produce an incorporated world
explicitly structuring a narrative in cartographic
through the imagination of the reader (Figure 2).8
symbology, cultural and historical voice can
Viewers were transported to the landscapes of
be restored to the map. Just as a novelist uses
the American West and captivated by their beauty
letter symbols to structure the narrative of a text,
through these original reports, and by presentation
they follow the expedition east to west across
of their original elements.
each page (Figure 1).
In my presentation I use narrative cartographic
I then further structured the narrative within the
techniques to gather together and combine the
symbols of each map, as suggested by Pearce,
products of these reports, and I reproduce these
to both tell the story of the expedition and
in the individual maps, which are then combined,
present it in the voice of the explorers. Within
as Wood originally suggested, into a series that
each map, original report texts, written by both
can be read like a novel. Just as the pages of a
Lieutenant Beckwith and Captain Gunnison,
novel are read, and then turned, as the reader
who shared command of the expedition, were
makes his or her way through the text, the atlasâ€™s
summarized and used to tell the story of the
series of maps has been similarly designed in my
expedition. Each text is associated with a date
presentation. I thus guide the readers through
and campsite location along the expedition
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path, so the reader can easily become familiar
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I u T o P j RI pse C S im B SU w.gl w w //
the spatial and temporal elements of the map as
in atlas form with the innovative recombination
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(Figure 2) A sample of the original illustration, map, data and text components of the Pacific Railroad Reports. ÂŠ 2011 the author. Image courtesy of the author.
m t h .
T N E ribe T N sc O b C u s Y m/ L ON l.co N rna O I u T o P j I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w / /
with the landscapes of the explorersâ€™ experi-
28 ences through their descriptions as he or she
accompanied by descriptive captions to further orient the reader within the landscape. Symbols
makes his or her way through the space of each
representing scientific measurements explicitly
map (Figure 3).
described in the texts (for example, abundant or sparse timber resources) or found in the tables of
In order to maintain the historic voice of
the original survey reports (for example, elevation
the explorers, and present the contents of
or bearings) are here placed directly at the location
the reports as they themselves would have
in the map where they were observed. The
presented them, each map is designed to
integration of each report component within the
resemble the original incorporated format of the
individual map works to combine the adventure
Railroad Reports. Text, image and observation
stories and visual products with their spatial and
are linked by location so the reader can view
temporal context, yielding an integrated and
each medium in the context of those others that
incorporated piece that replicates the original
accompany it, thus recreating the incorporated
report format only within the space of a single map.
world for the reader within the space of each plate (Figure 4). As mentioned above, each
The historic voice of the original reports is further
descriptive text is linked to campsite location
structured in the symbols of each map; these have
and date along the expedition path. Egloffsteinâ€™s
been re-drawn in the cartographic language of the
landscape illustrations and panoramas have
original reports using an innovative combination
been reproduced and linked to the location
of digital and hand-drawn techniques. Relief was
from which they were drawn, using the number
hand-rendered for each map background that I
system of the original reports; each image is also
have re-drawn, following the traditional hachuring
(Figure 3, left) Texts are used to tell the story of the expedition; events of the expedition are narrated as the explorers move across each map. © 2011 the author. Image courtesy of the author. (Figure 4, below) Narrative is further structured within each plate to reflect the format of the original reports. Individual elements of text, illustration and data are thus linked by location along the expedition path to recreate the explorers’ incorporated format within each map. © 2011 the author. Image courtesy of the author.
issue 8 Cartography
(Figure 5, left, above) A sample of the modern hand-hachured map background used to replicate the original nineteenth century relief representation. © 2011 the author. Image courtesy of the author. (Figure 6, left, below) A comparison between original and new digitally rendered cartographic symbols used to further structure the explorers’ original historic voice within each map. © 2011 the author. Image courtesy of the author.
The ideas brought forth by the small subset of cartographers that I have cited in the course of this article, and that I have realized in the atlas that I produced using their suggested methodology, offer us a point of departure for the creation of a totally different type of cartographic product; maps and atlases can be a window into individual
m t h .
experience and offer a unique graphic method of
T N E ribe T N sc w O b C u Y m/s L co ONReferences . l N rna O I u T o P j I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w / /
elucidating historical subjects. We can look forward to a day when narrative cartographies, both in
maps and atlas, become one of many standard representational formats in cartography.
style of the nineteenth century cartographer, only
current data as a guide (Figure 5). Similarly, 30 using new digital symbols were created using the original
reports as a stylistic referent, and these were designed to closely mimic the original historic style (Figure 6). A combination of traditional and digital techniques
Harley, J. B. 1989. Deconstructing the Map. Cartographica 26(2): 1-20.
Pearce, M. W. 2008a. Framing the days: Place and narrative in cartography. Cartography and Geographic Information Science 35(1): 17–32.
Harley, J. B. 1989. Historical geography and the cartographic illusion. Journal of Historical Geography 15(1): 80–91.
Wood, D. 1987. Pleasure in the idea: The atlas as narrative form. Cartographica 24: 24–45.
Pearce, M. W. and Pualani Louis, R. 2008b. Mapping indigenous depth of place. American Indian Culture and Research Journal 32(3): 107–126.
Bentley, E. 2011. Atlas of Explorations for the Pacific Railroad (1853-1854). Athens, Ohio: Self-Published.
US War Department. 1854. Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean (Pacific Railroad Reports). Washington DC: Government Printing Office. (US House Executive Document 91, 33rd Congress, 1st Session, 1854).
Krygier, J. 1997. Envisioning the American West: Maps, the representational barrage of 19th century expedition reports, and the production of scientific knowledge. Cartography and GIS 24(1): 27–50.
creates a unique modern representation, while retaining the original historic voice of the explorers within each map.
Though the idea of narrative in cartography is still in its
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youth, the potential of narrative technique to produce
engaging graphical stories within the space of the map and atlas is clear beyond doubt. As demonstrated in the example narrative atlas, breaking from traditional cartographic conventions and creating a structured narrative within the form and symbols of map creates an atlas that works to engage the reader’s interest, so
he or she can become familiar with the landscape of the explorers’ experiences while exploring the spatial and temporal elements of the map. The elements of place, space, time and event are thus brought together in a form that helps us better understand the past.
From Sextant to SatNav
Building a 3-D map of the human heart by Katherine Fletcher, Peter Kohl and Denis Noble Just as well-known, Internet-based geographic mapping applications bring together what used to be separate preserves of satellite images, globes, road maps, city guides and photographs of individual locations, we need a unified map of the human heart that allows researchers and clinicians to zoom in and out, linking different data types across spatial scales. Imagine the following: A patient prone to atrial fibrillation is diagnosed with arthritis. Before the doctor amends his prescription medicines, she calls up the patient’s history, loads up a three-dimensional map of his heart based on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, and uses it to run a simulation of the anticipated long-term effects of various anti-inflammatory drugs. The doctor then chooses the best drug to treat this particular patient’s arthritis with the lowest likelihood of negative side-effects for his heart. Fact or fiction? While the above scenario isn’t happening in hospitals quite yet, the basic tools necessary to do patient-specific, multi-dimensional modeling already exist. We can simulate the actions of drugs on the sugars, proteins and lipids in different cells; link cell models together into physiologically-structured tissue representations; customize the shape of a virtual heart to match an individual’s MRI scan data; and explore drug effects on heart rhythm. The challenge, now, is to integrate all those bits into a seamless whole (Figure 1).
(Figure 1) Computed electrocardiogram (ECG), (left) before (blue) and after (red) drug action on cells of the heart. The drug-induced effects change the electrical field passing through the torso (right), from which the ECG would be recorded on the surface of the body. The ECG is the most regularly used tool for cardiac diagnostics. This simulation is a step towards solving the “inverse problem,” allowing us to work back from ECG disturbance to the underlying heart problem, at the level of individual cells. This image is the result of a collaborative effort linking drug models developed by the I3BH team at Valencia Polytechnic University, heart models from the Computational Biology team at the University of Oxford, and a torso model from colleagues at INRIA, Paris. Image courtesy of Nejib Zemzemi.
Scale of the Problem
and the evolution of multi-cellular life on Earth (about 1 billion years ago).
Just as we now generally use global positioning systems (GPS), instead of sextant and clock, to navigate
So—hang on—109 orders of size, multiplied
our environment, medical research and practice need
by 1015 orders of time—surely this is Mis-
to rethink the way we integrate and access structure
sion Impossible? In fact, is it even Mission
and function data from various sources, to intelligent-
Desirable, given that we are approaching
ly navigate the human body. Using GPS cartography
territories marked, “Here Be Dragons”?
interfaces, anyone with a computer or handheld SatNav device can seamlessly zoom from whole globe
The answer is obvious: the challenge of
(~10 m) to decimeter (10 m) resolution. That zoom
cartography of the human body in space
range is 10 orders of magnitude. The challenge for
and time exists, regardless of what we
cardiac navigation is of a similar scale, when you go
make of it. For biomedical research, under-
from the whole body to the protein channels that un-
standing the heart’s structure and function,
derlie the ion fluxes that make the heart beat.
from ion channel to whole organ, and how
that develops in health and disease, is MisZooming in would take you through layers of muscle
and connective tissue and swirling patterns of cell
orientations, right through to electron microscopic
So we may as well get on with it. For prac-
levels of sub-cellular structures, and so cover a range
tical reasons, let’s split the challenge into
from the body surface (about 1 m, that is: 10 m) to
four problems. First: understanding what
a few nanometers (10 m). This highlights that the
we are simulating in terms of structure.
task for cartography of the heart (scaling 10 orders
Second: adding function. Third: adapt-
of magnitude) is even more enormous than stitching
ing what we know about the heart “in
together surface maps for geographic viewing inter-
general” to an individual. Fourth: doing
faces. What’s worse: we are not content with looking
all that quickly enough to support clinical
at the shell, but must map structure inside, in three
dimensions (3D). And: it’s moving—so we need 4D (3D + time).
Challenge 1: Structure-Related Image Capture and Integration
To catch that movement, and how it changes during the development of a disease (which may take a few
Modern non-invasive imaging techniques
years)—and to portray the underlying cellular and
that allow us to take snapshots of the struc-
sub-cellular processes that control electrical excitation
ture of the heart include MRI and Comput-
and mechanical contraction of all muscle cells in the
erized Tomography (CT). These techniques
heart on every beat—we need to be able to navigate
provide salami-slice-like pictures of interior
about 10 orders of temporal resolution. The flash of
action as ion channels within cells open and close, to the steady lub-dub of a heartbeat, is of the same scale
Computers can be used to strip away the
of change (1015) as the difference between the time it
background from the stacks of 2D im-
took you to read this paragraph (about 10 seconds)
ages, and leave us with the pure structure
of each virtual slice of the heart. Through a process called “registration,” we can line up the hundreds of slices to recreate “the salami,” building a single stack that the computer can reinterpret as a connected 3D volume. Instead of seeing either surfaces only, or the inside of tissue when it has been cut apart, we can start to make sense of how the anatomy works in its native state (for an example, see this BBC tour of a cardiac MRI data set: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/ health/7774016.stm). Using a different type of MRI protocol, called diffuissue 8
sion tensor MRI (DT-MRI), we can measure how easily water molecules diffuse through tissue, to get an idea of the way in which the cells are oriented in the
various layers of heart muscle. In the experimental setting (or post-mortem), we can furthermore add high-resolution histological information, obtained from serial sections of the tissue. This uses wellestablished techniques, though with a twist. After
fixing and embedding the heart in wax, a machine called a microtome is used to serially slice the entire organ as thinly as the membrane between the layers of an onion. After suitable staining, we can take hundreds of highly magnified snapshots of each slice, which are then aligned like the squares on a chessboard to make what looks like a huge patchwork quilt. This allows us to identify the various tissue components at micrometer resolution, and see how they are connected in different parts of the heart in health and disease (Figure 2). For example, if part of the heart has been damaged, the scar tissue is not only electrically and mechanically different, but underlying structural causes can be identified from serial 2D histology. This is important for understanding, for example, how a particular drug, or the positioning of a pacemaker, should be optimized for a patient who has had a heart attack.
(Figure 2) Mosaic histology image of a cross-section of a heart at the level of the aorta (aortic valve in the center of the image). Individual high-resolution microscopic snap-shots (little squares) have been stitched together to form one large image. At full resolution, this complete image has far too many pixels to display even on the largest highresolution monitor. Image courtesy of Dr. Rebecca Burton, University of Oxford.
If we use the same heart for all the above types of imaging, we can match up the histology pictures to the stack of MRI images (Figure 3). This allows researchers to switch between data types (like switching from “satellite” to “road map” view). Better still, once we’ve got the two data sets lying on top of each other, we can use the MRI data as a “master” silhouette to stretch the histology pictures back into their correct shape, if the slicing process has distorted the tissue. A key challenge in this process is that the data (which very quickly goes into multiple terabytes for the histology of a single heart) must be “co-registered”—i.e., the various serial 2D data must be collated into one common 3D space, with accurate positional reference between image sources (Figure 4).
Challenge 2: Function-Related Image Capture and Integration As mentioned before, functional imaging requires us to map data to positions inside the heart, (Figure 3) MRI data (left) and matched histological image detail (right) of the aortic valve in a rabbit heart. The image on the left shows a long-section of a heart, revealing ample structural detail, down to about 20 micrometers. But histology, while much more time-consuming and invasive by nature, offers identification of tissue elements (muscle cells are red, collagen is blue) with resolution of less than a micrometer. Note: the panel on the right is equivalent to a small part of a single patchwork square in Figure 2. Images courtesy of Drs. Jürgen Schneider, Patrick Hales, Rebecca Burton and Christian Bollensdorff, University of Oxford and Imperial College London.
and this can be achieved by taking MRI “snapshots” of the heart in various stages of the heartbeat. This is challenging, as the movement of the beating heart is further overlaid by displacement of the lungs, even if the patient manages to remain “still” for periods of time. Most MRI sequences are long, compared to the intrinsic movement of the heart, so image acquisition has to be triggered relative to specific points of the cardio-respiratory cycle. Using a combination of techniques such as cine-MRI (for general anatomic information of the moving heart), tagged MRI (where tissue fragments are non-invasively marked to study local deformation), or DT-MRI during different parts of the beating cycle, it is possible now to obtain insight into how the individual muscle layers of the heart move during contraction, which empties heart chambers to pump blood around the body.
issue 8 Cartography
In addition to tissue deformation, we can monitor the electrical activity, from body surface maps (Figure 1), or intra-cardiac probes that explore the electrical field changes inside the heart’s chambers. Experimentally, and very rarely on human post-mortem tissue (such as in the context of heart transplantation), we can directly observe the underlying electrical and chemical changes that govern the heartbeat. This involves using a technique called optical mapping, where fluorescent dyes are washed into the tissue and taken up by the cells. These dyes flip “on” and “off” to report the presence of specific ions, or of changes in electrical and mechanical parameters, and we can track these changes with suitably sensitive cameras (Figure 5). Many mechanisms that shape the electrical signal that drives contraction can therefore be analyzed as they act within the tissue.
(Figure 4) Flow chart of the integration of various imaging data sources (left) into co-registered computational representations (middle) from which mesh-like simplifications for computational models are generated (right). With permission from: Plank G, Burton RAB, Hales P, Bishop M, Mansoori T, Bernabeu M, Garny A, Prassl AJ, Bollensdorff C, Mason F, Rodriguez B, Grau V, Schneider J, Gavaghan D & Kohl P. “Generation of histoanatomically representative models of the individual heart: tools and application.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 2009/367(1896):2257-2292. Available online: http://rsta. royalsocietypublishing.org/ content/367/1896/2257.long
Challenge 3: Personalization
every millisecond or so, to capture the fast dynamics of electrical changes in
Once we have a general anatomical
the heart, and this has to be done for
structure, including muscle fiber orienta-
as long as it takes to address a relevant
tion, and a description of how the dif-
period of “real time.”
ferent constituent parts are interrelated, we can personalize this “generalized”
Which brings us to the last (but by no
virtual heart to reflect the structure, dis-
means least) problem: time.
ease history, and even (some) genetic variations of a particular patient, using the
Challenge 4: Real-Time
individual’s medical history, blood tests, ECG, and MRI or CT scans. This is the
As you might imagine, the equations
step that takes us from evidence-based
that describe the physical and chemi-
medicine (which looks at the probabilities
cal activities of cells are complicated
of medical responses and tries to treat the
to begin with. For a simulation to be
disease) to personalized medicine (which
useful, it must show multiple stages
is focused on the individual and therefore
in a heartbeat, and—depending on
tries to cure the patient).
the context—may require tens (e.g. for an acute drug effect) to millions of
All of this structural information can be
heartbeats (e.g. for disease progres-
condensed into a “mesh” (Figure 4),
sion). To do this, you need to calculate
where each point represents a group of
a sequence of interactions with at least
cells. Meshes must incorporate different
30 heartbeats, and for some processes
cell types, including the “telegraph wires”
more than one thousand complete
that conduct electrical impulses quickly
cycles, at each of the millions of virtual
through the heart, and different types of
cells. This takes a lot of computer pro-
muscle cells responsible for contraction
cessor time. Thankfully, if you can do it
on multiple processors in parallel, you can “multiply time.”
A real human heart has billions of cells, (Figure 5) Normal sequence (top image to bottom image) of electrical activation of the heart, spreading from the apex (bottom of each individual image) towards the base (top of each individual image) as a wave shown in bright color visualized by voltage optical mapping. Images courtesy of Dr. T. Alexander Quinn, Imperial College London.
and—interestingly—it contains many more
If you wanted to simulate one cycle of
non-muscle cells than actual muscle. To
electrical activation and depolariza-
have a useful level of detail, a virtual human
tion using a whole-heart model that
heart would need to simulate several mil-
included cell and tissue properties five
lion cells—which means the equations that
years ago—assuming you had such a
describe what each cell is doing, and how
model—it would have taken several
cells communicate with their neighbors,
months to run. Since then, we have
would have to be solved in several million
streamlined the computer software
places, at once, for the many different ion
that runs these models and, also ben-
channels that underlie each cell’s activity.
efitting from improved processing
This would have to be done repeatedly,
power of modern computers, we now
can perform such simulations in about 30 seconds. This still takes 30 times longer than one heartbeat, and that is even before we have appropriately included movement of the heart tissue. We expect that in the next five years teams around the world will be able to simulate a whole beating heart, including blood flow, while you wait. For this to be useful in treating patients—such as predicting the longissue 8
term effects of various anti-inflammatory drugs for our atrial fibrillation patient at the start of this story—we need to be
able to calculate the relevant behavior faster than real-time. After all, it is no use “predicting” that a drug will cause arrhythmia for the patient a year from now if it takes a year or more for the computer to work this out.
portant ion fluxes that excite cells in the heart. The more we learn about cells, the more complex and detailed the models
Mapping the Inner Cities of the Heart
become. Biochemistry and molecular biology are giving us a new layer of insight. level
In current simulations, we treat these
models gloss over what is happening
cellular processes as if they occurred
underneath. In effect, we need to add
in a structureless space, but cells are
not just street-view, but “open home”
densely packed with highly-organized
to our maps, and this should be part
compartments. Calcium, for example, is
of a 3D GPS of the cells; that is, we
a key that turns many locks. It plays very
must now start to include the nano-to-
different roles depending on its location
and the timing of its release in a cell. Its
movement between cell compartments All the global changes in a heart are
governs the transition from electrical
driven by lightning-fast processes
to mechanical activity in the heart. But
within cells, which are still only partly
in other parts of the same cell, calcium
understood. Cardiac computer mod-
plays important roles in signalling, gene
els actually began at this level, with
transcription, protein folding and enzyme
Denis Noble’s work in the early 1960s,
activities—requiring much lower calcium
which calculated some of the most im-
concentrations than are needed for the
(Figure 6) Cutaway view of an individualized heart model, showing the specialized “telegraph wires” that conduct the electrical signal quickly through the heart. If heart tissue is damaged by disease or injury, simulations like this can identify the ideal placement of pacemaker electrical leads that help to activate all parts of the heart at the right time during each beat. Image courtesy of Drs. Rafel Bordas, David Gavaghan, Vicente Grau and Blanca Rodriguez, University of Oxford.
(Figure 7) EM tomography-based visualization of a mitochondrion (the cellâ€™s power station: blue), its relation to the internal store for calcium (red), parts of the cell surface membrane that dive into the middle of cardiac muscle cells (yellow), and microtubules (green) that provide important mechanical clues for the activity of the three other components shown here. The 3D pixels (voxels) underlying this image are only a few nanometers in size. Image courtesy of Ms. Fleur Mason and Drs. Patrizia Camelliti, Mary Morphew, and Andreas Hoenger, University of Oxford and University of Colorado, Boulder.
heartbeat. To protect the calcium signal mes-
and function, but also to make significant
sage requires compartments.
progress in the nano-to-micro domain. This will revolutionize cardiac research by linking
Size and structure matter, nano-to-macro.
molecular biology insight to what happens in health and disease at cell and tissue levels, and thereby aid diagnosis and care. With this
is called electron microscopic (EM) tomogra-
technology, it will be possible to find the best
phy. A small but unusually thick (for EM stan-
location for implanted defibrillators and pace-
dards) cell fragment is mounted in an electron
makers before operating, much like builders
microscope, which takes a stack of images
can decide how to dig a foundation based on
from different viewing angles, a bit like a
blueprints, topographical maps and knowl-
miniature tomography scan. The resulting and
edge of the local water table, rather than by
inherently “fuzzy” images are then aligned,
trial and error. w
and the relevant structures painstakingly extracted, and reconstructed in 3D. The results volumes of 3D EM data (Figure 7). Interestingly, going from micro- to nano-scale (i.e. from cell to sub-cellular compartments), represents a spatial challenge that is similar to going from micro- to macro-scale (i.e. bridging from the cell to the whole heart). This part of the problem is, at present, nowhere near the point at which we can hope to integrate it into full-blown real-time simulations, and this kind of “multi-scale challenge” is set to remain a key area of research and development in many labs around the world.
Future of the 3D Heart
Acknowledgements Much of the content of this article is based on collaborative work between Oxford University teams in the Department of Computer Science, Physiology, Engineering, and Cardiovascular Medicine, as well as at Imperial College London’s Cardiac Biophysics and Systems Biology team. We gratefully acknowledge financial support for this research from the EU Virtual Physiological Human Initiative, UK Engineering and Physiological Sciences Research Council, UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the UK Medical Research Council, the British Heart Foundation, and the Magdi Yacoub Institute.
With recent and upcoming advances in imaging technologies, computing power, and cartographic modeling techniques at the cellular scale, etc., future physicians will have a 3D GPS to navigate the structure of the heart, developed for their individual patient using non-invasive imagery. In the next decade, we expect to create not only highly detailed micro-to-macro models of a heart’s structure
The text of this article, without images, is free to use under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
show a breathtaking complexity in connected
Supplementary illustrations and videos for this article are available at http://www.glimpsejournal.com
One tool to map these minute compartments
RetroSpect: ca. 1833-1842
A Map of the Open Country of Woman’s Heart... by Georgia B. Barnhill
hen we think of cartography, we think
This attempt to map emotional and behavioral states
of maps of the world around us. The
is signed “By a Lady.” The heart is partitioned into
opening decades of the nineteenth
various sections—“Land of Love of Admiration,”
century witnessed an expanded production of
“Land of Coquetry,” “Land of Selfishness,” Region
maps due to the use of lithographic printing
of Sentiment,” “Land of Love of Dress” and “Region
technology. The ease of reproducing detailed
of Sentimentality,” “City and District of Love.”
maps using this innovative process reduced the
Linking these “lands” are rivers, railroads and canals,
cost of publishing individual maps. At the same
all named with phrases such as “River Drain the
time, cultural tourism and explorations of western
Purse” in the “Land of Love of Dress” and “River
lands created an increased demand for maps of
Lasciviousness” in the “Region of Sentiment.”
the United States and its territories. Simultaneously
This hand-colored map might have appealed to
during the decades before the Civil War, male and
parents instructing their adolescents to avoid certain
female writers explored the genre of sentimental
behaviors and excessive love of finery, or to young
literature, which also fed the market for related
men unaccustomed to the wiles and love of luxury of
imagery. Publishers of popular American prints,
young women who needed to be warned. There are
such as D. W. Kellogg & Company in Hartford,
few positive emotions expressed in this map, except
Connecticut, met this need by issuing prints such as
in the “Region of Sentiment” where we find “Platonic
this Map of the Open Country of Woman’s Heart,
Affection,” “Hope,” “Enthusiasm,” “Good Sense,”
which comes at the intersection of cartography
“Discrimination” and “Prudence.” w
and sentimentalism, expressed clearly by the river named “Novel Reading.” Given the use of traditional symbols for boundaries, mountains, and the color blue for water, the map actually implies map reading knowledge.
A Map of the Open Country of Woman’s Heart Exhibiting its Internal Communications, and the Facilities and Dangers to Travellers Therein. Hartford: Lith. of D. W. Kellogg & Co., [1833-1842]. Image courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society.
issue 8 Cartography
Losing Finding Our Way >>>
And a conversation about cognitive mapping and orientation with neuroscientist giuseppe iaria by Rachel Sapin with introduction by Carolyn Arcabascio
trip to the bank, a grocery run, a quick stop at the post office. For most of us, the journey to such routine destinations is so familiar and second-nature that the experience is an entirely forgettable one. But for some, the distressing time spent en route is as noteworthy an event as anything that may happen upon arrival. These otherwise capable people get lost along the same route they’ve been traversing every day for years; landmarks, lefts and rights don’t help. But regardless of the mundane or stressful nature of one’s daily travels, the brain is always to blame or to thank. And according to neuroscientist Giuseppe Iaria, cognitive mapping and connectivity are key. Dr. Iaria talks with GLIMPSE’s Rachel Sapin about the neural mechanisms that help those of us who succeed in “getting there,” or that fail those of us who don’t.
functions: perception, attention, memory, decision-making, mental imagery and so on. When people talk about topographical orientation, it’s not easy to define it in terms of cognitive skills. What is easy to say is [that topographical orientation is] basically our ability to find our way around our environments. [Some] people may find ways of [learning a pathway] or getting from A to B by using left and right body turns or distances. Others may remember the same pathway by associating body turns with specific landmarks: they have to turn left at the bakery; right at the cinema; right at the bank again, and so on. Others may just follow sequences of displacement, and others, with time and practice, may actually use mental representations of the environment. So, whenever the environment becomes familiar, you have in your mind a mental map that you use in order to get from place to place. Now, if you think about those cognitive functions—memory, attention, perception, decision-making skills, mental imaging—you realize that these are func-
Rachel Sapin (RS): Could you first explain how it is that we
tions that children develop over time. There are
are able to navigate at all? Is a sense of direction innate
certain strategies that children actually use when
or learned in people without perceptual impairments?
they are four-, five-, six-years-old, and other strategies that they may use for orientation when they
Dr. Giuseppe Iaria (GI): The ability to orient and navigate in
are older—eight-, nine- or ten-years-old. [We un-
space is a very complex phenomenon in humans and non-
derstand it as] developmental, but just because
human animals because it involves many different cognitive
we don’t have evidence in terms of genetics so
issue 8 Cartography
43 “Disoriented yet?” Berlin, 2008. Photograph courtesy of flickr member dospaz.
far. I say so far because we are doing a study trying to find
order. I’m talking about normal people without
out if there is a combination of genes that can identify some
any neurological or brain injury. I was trying to un-
orientation skills in individuals. What makes this story com-
derstand what was, at that time, the relationship
plicated is that there is huge variability across individuals
between this variability and neuromechanisms.
in cognitive strategies for orientation. There is also huge
In the last few years, we have done a fair job in
variability in terms of how good or bad people are in us-
explaining [the way] some behavior affects vari-
ing certain strategies compared with others. Where you live
ability. The literature [on the subject] explains that
also affects which kind of strategies you use.
aging has an effect on orientation skills. We just published a manuscript in which we show that
RS: It sounds as if there isn’t even a “normal” way to navi-
by age 45 orientation skills start to decline in the
gate an environment.
healthy populations. Among the variety of strategies that start to decline though, the ability to
GI: Exactly. It’s very difficult to find out what is actually nor-
form a cognitive map is the skill that predicts best
mal. My interest in this topic came out when I was trying
aging decline. The effects are expressed in terms
to understand all this variability across individuals. I’m not
of time required to form mental maps and errors
talking about pathological cases, or people who have a dis-
made while using them, which reflect a decline in
44 “Topography of Terror” Berlin, 2007. Photograph courtesy of flickr member Luis Villa del Campo.
cognitive skills and therefore a decline in the neu-
clinical populations [to study humans]. We used
ral mechanisms responsible for those skills. Gender
to do experiments on healthy controls (human
also has an effect on orientation skills. We know that
subjects), and we formed our hypotheses. Then
women probably have a bias in looking for land-
we went looking for brain damaged patients;
marks and trying to make use of them; whereas men
damage in certain regions will affect certain orien-
may actually rely on different kinds of information
tation strategies. A major criticism to this neuro-
like body turns or distances. So we have some sort of
psychological approach was that we investigated
variability that can be explained in terms of behavior,
something that wasn’t there anymore: there is
but we don’t know so much more than that.
damage in the brain, a lack of orientation skills. Another criticism was that one couldn’t really
RS: To touch on another aspect of this, how much
make so much of a brain that is damaged because
have technological advances in neuroimaging al-
maybe it organizes in a different way. When the
lowed you to begin to understand this very com-
neuroimaging technique became available, we
plex skill humans and animals have?
were able to finally describe how things worked in a healthy brain. In the first few years, people
GI: [These advances have been] huge because until
started using virtual environments—very simple
around 15 years ago, neuroscientists relied mainly on
kinds of video games—to design tasks that aimed
to assess specific orientation strategies. You cannot
easily realize, any damage in the brain that is going
do fMRI in real environments, so we tried to recreate
to affect one of these skills may affect your ability to
the specific daily life activities in terms of orientation
orient. I’ll go to extremes: if you have damage in the
by using these virtual environments. We were able
brain where you cannot recognize landmarks, then
to show that the use of differ-
you get lost because you cannot
ent orientation strategies relied,
recognize the bakery or the bank
for example, on different brain regions as confirmed by neuropsychological status. This was the first approach in neuroimaging; it was purely functional. People were looking at functionality of ity in specific regions compared to others: why people were using the last seven or eight years neuroimaging has developed much more technologically, and we are able now to make sense of structural data—very fine differences within the structures of the brain
in the brain that is affecting your memory, generally speaking, then you get lost because you don’t remember where things are. If you have more frontal damage, which is affecting your attentional skills, then you get lost because of this problem. People refer to these patients as having a topographical disorder. If you want to be more specific, these are acquired topographical disorders. They’re acquired because the brain damage occurred after the person de-
and specific brain regions—rather
veloped properly. That’s the part
than the functionality of the brain
of the story that I was interested
alone. We have found in our lab
that there is a very strong relationship between specific brain
There is another part of the story,
regions—how they are structur-
which is not actually a disorder; it’s
ally organized—and the ability to
a condition called Developmental
make use of specific orientation
Topographical Disorientation. This
distinction is very important. The people that I’m describing and investigating right
RS: Topographical disorientation, which you’ve
now do not have an acquired topographical disori-
studied for a long time, has to do with a specific
entation. There was no brain injury—no car accident,
part of the brain being structured somewhat differ-
no brain tumor or stroke. They just didn’t develop
ently. Can you tell me what this condition is?
certain skills. We have found that these people who have this condition, in which basically they get lost
GI: A little bit of clarification: We started this con-
every day in the most familiar surroundings, have
versation by saying that topographical orientation is
been this way all their lives. That’s the reason why
very complex because there are different functions
we call it developmental and not congenital topo-
involved—memory, perception, etc. Now, as you can
graphical disorientation; we don’t have evidence
different orientation strategies. In
left or right. If you have damage
the brain—increased neuroactiv-
. .they get lost every day in the most familiar surroundings..
where you were supposed to turn
that there is a gene that is actually going to develop
they don’t know where things are, even if they
or define our orientation skills. These people are ba-
have been there for 20 years.
sically people like you and me: no memory-related or perceptual complaints, no decision-making or
There’s one thing I want to add that is very im-
mental imagery problems.
portant for us, which is where our research with these DTD people is taking
RS: Do you have any ideas as
us. We’re doing a variety of
to the cause at this point in
things, but we have two ma-
jor goals in our lab: one is to
we don’t have evidence that there is l m t a gene that is TENT ibe.h N scr O actually goiY nCg to/sub L m N o ne develop O orl.cdefi N rna O I our uorientation T P I sejo R C p S ski l ls. m B i l U g
identify children who are not
GI: So people with what we
going to develop these impor-
tant orientation skills. It’s not
because we don’t care about
get lost in the place where
these people, we absolutely
they have lived for 20 or 25
do; but they have been this
years for the simple reason
way all their lives. This means
that they are not able to form
that my children or yours may
in their minds a mental map of
not develop these important
the environment. That’s what
orientation skills. What we
we call the cognitive map. So,
want to do is find out who
if you move to New York, you
these children will be.
might move to a place that
is 15 or 20 minutes walking-
We’re doing several projects:
distance from your office. You
one is developing a tool that
will most likely look around for
will be able to assess a variety
landmarks, trying to define the
of orientation skills in schools;
S w. w w / :/
pathway to get to your office
the other is to do genetic
everyday; or you will Google
studies in families with mem-
your address—you will try to
bers across generations. We
make sense of things. You
want to identify genes able
p t t h
will start having experiences with the environment,
to detect this specific condition. Why all of this?
which will become more and more familiar with time.
Because it’s easier to modify the development
You will discover the area around you—where to find
of children rather than modify the brain of a
nice bread, and so on. With time, you will have a very
55-year-old person. The other aspect we are re-
good mental representation of the environment.
ally focusing on is the rehabilitation treatment for
People with DTD are not able to create this mental
people that are not children. It’s very important
map. Whenever they move, they have to remember
for us to use technology, but we also believe
sequences of pathways, which is fine; but they can-
there is some cognitive rehabilitation that we can
not do this for every place they go because it will be
do. In some way, we are working on developing
too much for the memory. So if they don’t have this
some sort of task that will help these people to
map in their minds, whenever they move around,
develop those skills that for some reason they
“bread and cakes”: Bread and cakes in the shop window of Tunnocks Tea Rooms on Uddingston High Street, Glasgow, Scotland, 2010. Photograph courtesy of flickr member zoetnet.
didn’t develop when they were at a certain age.
reorganization of the human brain according to this new
This is very important research for us and we’re
sensory stimulation, it will be a huge help for these people
also using technology. For example, right now I
with topographical disorientation.
: p t t
have two German students in my lab who have designed a special belt that contains a compass,
RS: Is creating a cognitive map—however you do that—
which gives you sensory stimulation wherever the
essential to orienting ourselves?
north is. So you receive the vibration on your skin while you’re wearing this belt, and if you wear it
GI: It is absolutely essential. These people that I’m describ-
for six or eight weeks, our hypothesis is that we’ll
ing are the evidence. A very important question that I hope
detect a change in behavior or performance in
my lab will be able to answer in the next few years is: “What
terms of orientation, but also a change in terms of
is a cognitive map? How do you build it?” I can tell you a
brain regions, and connectivity between regions.
definition of a cognitive map, which is “a mental representa-
If this belt has an effect on the neuroplasticity and
tion of the environment in which the spatial relationships
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I T jou P I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w / /
l m ht
l m ht
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I T jou P I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w / /
“Disoriented No 2,” 2008. Photo courtesy of flickr member Owen Byrne.
between landmarks are reported.” It’s not so much
learn that. Some people may actually rely on very
important to have landmarks on the map, but what
specific landmarks; some can actually build cogni-
is really important is to have proper spatial relation-
tive maps by relying on body turns and an outline
ships between landmarks. Now, do we really have a
of the environment. Some use verbal information.
[mental] top-view survey of the environment? If so,
Semantic knowledge goes into the map as well.
how do we create it? It’s very complicated because
So if you meet your boyfriend in a nice bar and it’s
if I ask you to imagine where the closest washroom is
the first time you’re meeting after a few months in
from where you are now, you can probably imagine
Manhattan, then that bar will have a significance
how to get there through the walls. But if I ask you
for you, which is different from the significance of
where Rome is compared to Paris, you would prob-
a bar where you meet your usual colleagues every
ably picture a top-view of Europe. The way that we
Friday afternoon. So how people use information
represent the environment is different according to
to create a cognitive map becomes very, very com-
the space that we have to rely on, which probably
suggests that it’s also different in terms of acquisition of information. We can acquire the same cognitive
RS: The next thing I’d like to get into is the role
map by using different kinds of information and this,
of the hippocampus.
I think, taps into the variability that we were talking about earlier.
GI: Everything that we reliably knew until about 20 years ago in terms of the hippocampus and orien-
There is no evidence in the scientific literature of how
tation really comes from studies in rodents—rats
we create different cognitive maps, but we want to
basically. O’Keefe and Nadel are the two people
scientists think of when they think about the hippocampus
So we look at the hippocampus and we detect
and spatial orientation. In 1978 they discovered via electro-
increased Blood Oxygenated Level Dependent
physiological evidence that within the hippocampus in rats,
Signal within the hippocampal region, suggest-
there are specific cells called “place” cells that fire when the
ing increased neural activity. We don’t measure
animals are in a specific location within the environment.
single cells, so the information is a little bit dif-
So you have cells that respond when the animal is in X, Y
ferent [from that of rodents]. We also have struc-
and Z location, and then other cells that respond when the
tural information within the hippocampus that
animal is in a different location. [Athough] the first thoughts
confirms that it’s really critical for orientation and
[on this matter were] from Edward Tolman, a scientist who started talking about cognitive mapping in 1948, O’Keefe and Nadel provided evidence there are these cells, these neurons within the hippocampus that fire and cally means that the hippocampus is in some way responsible for mapping the environment. Since these “place” cells were discovered, there have been many studies in rodents trying to prove when these neurons respond.
“What is a l m t cognitive map? ENT be.h T cri N s How doLYyou CO sub / m N co O lt. ?” bui l d i a N IO urn
T jo P I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w / p:/
What has been found is that they respond when animals are trying to map
has been evidence provided in the last ten years about taxi
move within their environ-
ment daily for an enormous amount of time. They have
a huge, detailed [cognitive] map of the environment. In London,
and her colleagues showed that if you measure the vol-
ume of the hippocampus of
taxi drivers, you can see that the right hippocampus is
the environment, but relying on visual
bigger when compared with
landmarks to do so. So this was trans-
the hippocampus of non-taxi
lated in the human research in terms of
drivers living within the same
topographic orientation soon after, in
city.2 The second point that I
neuropsychological patients, and also
wanted to make is that when
in neuroimaging. The idea is that, even
we think about topographic
in humans, if the hippocampus is dam-
orientation, we think about
aged, it’s going to affect the ability
critical regions [of the brain]
to orient by using landmarks. When we talk about the hip-
that we know are important (for example, the hip-
pocampus and about neuroimaging [in humans], we don’t
pocampus, but also the parietal cortex) What the
really have the detailed information that we do for rodents
majority of scientists investigating this [subject]
because in humans, we cannot enter the hippocampus of
are interested in is connectivity. We are interested
healthy controls and record neurons from there. But we use
in the network, not just specific regions because
neuroimaging, which provides more of a microscopic pic-
what we have understood in the last few years is
ture of what’s happening. There’s no electrophysiology that
that in the brain, what really makes a difference,
can really help [in studies on humans], although we do have
is not just a specific region, but how the regions
communicate with other regions. If you think
respond in specific locations, it basi-
maps. For example, there
[through their experiments] that if
about the first comment that I made about the
in terms of connectivity, and if you think about
complexity of orientation and navigation in hu-
the neuroanatomy, you can easily realize it has
mans, which involves different cognitive skills and
to do with development. You develop new skills,
[therefore] different brain regions, you’ll easily
you develop your brain, your cortex is folding
realize that the connectivity must be very relevant
more and more: the baby grows and the baby
in order to assess the neural mechanisms that are
experiences the environment. So, clearly there is
responsible for orientation.
a change in your anatomy,
We are interested in l m T .ht N E ribe the network, T N sc O b C u s LY m/ not-ONjust co . l N rna O I u fic T jspeci o P I R pse C S im B regions.. SU w.gl which basically means there
I mentioned that for stud-
is a change in the connec-
ies in humans, we don’t re-
tivity. Is this change de-
ally have electrophysiological
termined genetically? The
answer is most likely “yes,”
hippocampus. This is not to-
but we don’t actually have
tally true because in order to
evidence yet. People who
localize the epileptic focus of
patients with epilepsy, neuro-
this are interested in devel-
surgeons used to insert micro-
opmental disorders, just to
electrons within the temporal
see if there is any way we
lobe. Sometimes, in order to
can detect a gene or a se-
detect the discharge of these
ries of genes that will tell us
neurons and then remove
about the development of
that part of the brain that
specific cognitive skills. We
has the epileptic focus, neu-
do have the ability to detect
roscientists like me use these
functional connectivity and
patients to see how neurons
also structural connectivity,
are responding while they are
but we don’t really have evi-
doing some hippocampo-de-
dence yet that the variability
pendent orientation task. We
do have electrophysiological
measurements, but mainly in
across individuals in terms of
connectivity can be referred to genes.
a clinical population. RS: Switching gears a bit, you made a very
RS: Are we at a point with how we can investi-
interesting comment in The Denver Post that
gate the brain where we know if the structural
alluded to GPS technology as a contributor to
organization of the hippocampus and the con-
the deterioration of mental mapping skills.
nectivity between the hippocampus and other regions of the brain is more due to genetics or
GI: The reason why I made this comment is to
illustrate a point: let’s say you move to New York and you buy a car with a GPS. You will use it ev-
GI: That’s a very big question mark for us. There
erywhere you go, so you never use your brain. You
are a lot of people doing developmental studies
will not have a mental map of New York. If you
issue 8 Cartography
51 â€œCompass Inlayâ€? Compass Rose, Terminal Tower, Cleveland, Ohio, 2010. Photo courtesy of flickr member, Steve Snodgrass.
he compass rose has been around as long as the Portolan charts that emerged in Spain and Italy in the 13th century. Portolan charts, lovely for their detailed and colorful illustrations of harbors and trade routes of the Mediterranean, were ornamented by the compass rose, which was created to show the direction of winds, a factor that was important to Mediterranean traders. The compass rose contains 32 points, which indicate the directions of the eight major winds, the eight half-winds and the sixteen quarter-winds. The colors on the compass rose were created to ensure visual clarity for seafarers viewing Portolan charts in the dark of night on rolling ships. Thatâ€™s why the eight major winds on the compass rose are often prominently displayed in black to be easily seen against the lighter background and other trade-wind colors, the half-winds generally being blue or green and the quarter-winds being red.
do this over and over again, you do not practice
use of GPS do worse in our orientation tasks. I
your skill, which means the regions in the brain
don’t really know what this means in terms of
that are responsible or that put effort into sup-
neural mechanisms, but it basically means that
porting your skills of creating cognitive maps will
if I take away the toy from these people, they
do something else. In some way, then, you will
will not perform the task as other controls do.
lose the ability to create cognitive maps. In other
There’s only one study showing that if people
words, if you use GPS, you replace your neuro-
have to use a technology aid for finding their way
networks responsible for creating the maps. Then
in the environment, then they find their way in a
you always have to rely on GPS because those
real surrounding differently.3 What we are doing
regions in the brain responsible for creating maps
now is assessing a variety of orientation skills in
may become responsible for something else;
users and in non-users, and we’re already finding
that’s the evolution, that’s the way it goes. Hav-
a trend, which basically means we just need more
ing said that, I don’t really have anything against
subjects in order to provide significance to this
the use of GPS as long as it’s used properly. Many
trend. But the trend is there.
l m ht
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s Y m/ L ON l.co N rna O I T jou P I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w //
people with DTD are able to move around just
because of GPS, so the advantage is huge. I don’t
RS: I wanted to end by asking you if your re-
like black and white comments on things like that.
search has influenced or changed your own
It’s an extremely useful tool if you really need it.
relationship to maps, cognitive and otherwise.
It’s fun. You can use it as long as you are aware of the effect of the technology.
GI: Sometimes people assume that I do have orientation problems because I have so much
RS: Do you use GPS?
interest in all of this research. I don’t actually. I think I have an average, maybe a bit below aver-
GI: I don’t have GPS [laughs]. But, for example, I
age orientation ability, but I am very aware of the
went to Lethbridge [in Alberta] for a seminar, and
environment. I am very biased in trying to look
I usually don’t use any technology, but I was get-
at landmarks or trying to remember things about
ting late and used my iPhone to track my direc-
locations; I’m too much aware of my knowledge
tions. I do realize it’s very useful, and sometimes,
to be detached and to be so naive about the
it’s very critical to use it. I trust my brain more, at
environment. If I walk along a new pathway, I
least now. When I’m 75, I’ll trust it less.
usually turn around seven or eight times, just to
: p t t
see how things will look when I’m going back.
RS: I always like to look at a map—I like to see
I’m really biased because of my knowledge. I
where I am—before I use a GPS.
think it helps me to appreciate a little bit more the information that’s available in the environ-
GI: It also becomes more personal, and on the
ment. I look at people, and I’m really interested
psychological side, it becomes more interesting.
to sometimes ask them questions to see how
We’re doing a study in our lab now where we ask
they give directions and information. I like to
people that make use of GPS and people that
experience the environment, because I think I’ve
do not to solve a variety of orientation tasks that
developed some knowledge through the years
assess different orientation skills. What we are
of how our brain works in the environment. It’s
finding so far is a trend where people that make
fascinating because it’s very, very complex. w
To learn more about Dr. Iaria’s research on Developmental Topographical Disorientation, visit http://www.gettinglost.ca
Endnotes O’Keefe, J, Nadel, L. (1978) The hippocampus as a cognitive map. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Maguire, E., Gadian, D. G., Johnsrude, I. S., Good, C. T., Ashburner, J., Frackowiak, R. S. J. & Frith, C. D. (2000) “Navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A 97(9), 4414-6.
Ishikawa, T., Fujiwara, H., Imai, O. & Okabe, A. (2008).“Wayfinding with a GPS-based mobile navigation system: A comparison with maps and direct experience,” Journal of Environmental Psychology 28(1), 74-82.
Hutchinson, A. (2009, November) “Global Impositioning Systems: Is GPS technology actually harming our sense of direction?” The Walrus. http://www.walrusmagazine.com/ articles/2009.11-health-global-impositioningsystems/
you are here
Reorganizing Space, Negotiating Identity The use of placenames in ordinary conversation by Lisa Gabbert
lthough the study of placenames—and onomastics more generally—constitutes a relatively small domain of scholarship, placenames are crucial semiotic features
of the landscape. They’re linguistic labels that verbally shape perceptions of “what’s out there,” long before one actually visits a particular locale. Despite their textual brevity, there is no tidy one-to-one correspondence between a name and a specific geographic location, notwithstanding the desire on the part of some cartographers for linguistic transparency.1 While “official” placenames exist, as in standard cartographic maps, there are also “unofficial,” or folk placenames. These
names are used locally, but are not formally codified by the government. Places may also have several different names in different languages, creating a symphony of monikers for a particular spot. My research site of Valley County, and more specifically, of a town called McCall, is located in west-central Idaho near the Salmon River Mountains, and is surrounded by the Payette National Forest and the Frank Church River of No Return wilderness area. It is an isolated, rural area. Traditionally McCall relied on the timber industry as its primary economy, but tourism has also long been an important secondary source of income. McCall has been a weekend destination area for Idaho families like mine since the turn of the 20th century, and more recently has grown into a destination resort. My family owned a small share of a cabin near McCall on the edge of Payette Lake, which is located at the northern end of the county, and I spent many weekends in the area as a child during the 1970s and ‘80s. Yet it was not until I briefly returned in the early ‘90s to work as
a summer wilderness firefighter that I
visible signage for most of the streets
began to take an active interest in local
and the houses did not have house
culture, which quite clearly was linked to
numbers. Street signs were expensive
the landscape. My interests lie in folklore
and house numbers unnecessary;
and landscape, and so placenames
most people received their mail at the
seemed an obvious area to explore.
local post office. Instead, in order to get around, people organized space
In my initial research, I compared cat-
according to local features and well-
egories of name types in Valley County.
known landmarks, such as physical
that had been
on a wide range
ings like the
school or the
such as “John-
ated with work
like mining, as in
names, such as
All images courtesy of the author
In contrast, newer
participants perceive to
names—mostly street names found
be out there in the landscape. They
within newly developed subdivisions—
offer a verbal picture of an individual’s
generally referenced natural features,
cognitive map, and therefore, produc-
resulting in placenames such as “Moon-
tive insight into how people organize
beam Way.” These modern naming
and use space. In addition, place-
practices suggest a more limited range of
names send messages about what
is going on in conversation between two people, suggesting that organiza-
One of the most interesting things I no-
tion of space is intimately related to
ticed was that, historically, many portions
perceptions of personal and social
of McCall (population 2,554 in 2010) and
the surrounding county did not have
go down to the intersection there at the Nissula’s, turn north. Go past the Kruikshank place
“You turn left at Lake Fork Store,
Before the Rural Addressing System
hang first left there. Up at the next road, which is uh—Heinrich,
head towards the railroad. Just before you hit where it drops into the river, hang a right on that driveway there across the street from the—from the irrigation pumps. That’ll put you on our place. You can see the house from there.” 4
With these changes, the government aimed to implement a 911 emergency response system, My family’s cabin, for example, was located on
increase efficiency in the delivery of city services
an unmarked dirt road. We told people how
and facilitate the transfer of property. Our unnamed
to find the turnoff by instructing them to drive
dirt road became “Squirrel Lane,” and eventually
our cabin was given
down Warren Wagon
a house number,
road (one of the few
even though mail
roads that did have
delivery was not
signage), and then
sign that read
Rather than relying
“Dingle,” which was
nailed to a tree. The
cabin was the first
ence or historical
one on the right. This
method of conceptu-
as old homesteads
alizing space is what
56 to look for a wooden
Giddens calls “embedded,” meaning it is highly
seen and unseen), the RAS divides space into a
dependent on local knowledge, including histori-
grid, upon which interchangeable units (i.e., houses)
cal knowledge, as well as landscape features
are exactly plotted by means of street names and
such as a wooden sign nailed to a tree that are
house numbers.7In McCall, and the rest of the
directly seen or experienced.5
United States, the RAS constitutes a reorganization of space that Giddens describes as “distanciated”
Eventually, government officials decided to
or “disembedded,” meaning that space is sepa-
implement the Rural Addressing System, which
rated from place. By implementing the system,
began in the 1970s and culminated in the
the US government linked McCall to all the named
‘90s. The RAS named streets that did not have
and numbered houses and streets in the rest of the
names, erected visible street signs, assigned
country, thereby fostering the town’s relationship
numbers to houses and put them on buildings.
with “absent others.”
began to evaluate one another and This street-names-and-house-numbers
assess each other’s identity and
means of organizing space is considered
status according to wayfinding and
“modern” in that it presumes space to
placename cues used in conversation.
be empty and Euclidean, a ground upon
The ability to give directions using
l m ht
that entails a seemingly objective,
bird’s-eye view. The broader purpose of such reorganization is to make society more legible
through standardization, and it is
linked to the spread of capitalism, the
increase of bureau-
cracy, and modern forms of surveillance.8
pre-RAS wayfinding methods came to be more valued in the post-RAS con-
What is interesting to me, however, is
text, and attributed new social capital
how local people responded to this
because it signaled the user’s status
reorganization of space in terms of
as an “old-timer,” which gave him or
wayfinding and placename use. People
her increased social cache in some
give directions based not only on a
cases. Furthermore, people could now
referential understanding of their local
tacitly acknowledge the addressee’s
surroundings, but also based on percep-
identity as someone who could also
tions of participant identity—that is, who
understand the pre-RAS system,
they think they are and who they think
thereby staking a powerful claim
their addressee is. In McCall, rather than
about the ongoing social interaction
appropriating the RAS by giving their
as one old-timer speaking to another,
street name and house number when
without saying so directly. This act of
asked where they lived, local people
purposefully using an alternate form
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I T jou P I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w / /
be mapped and
“Say, I was telling Jayne Brown where the drive-in is going to be? Well, it’s Burt and Esther Brewster’s old house. She knows exactly where that is. If I told her it was 1148 Boydstun, she wouldn’t know where that is.” 4
which anything can
After the Rural Addressing System
of communication other than the “modern” one available is what scholars have identified as “codeswitching,” that is, communicative tactics used for the purposes of sending covert messages.9
the fact that he did not have the firsthand, experiential knowledge that the
People also used one system or the other some-
pre-RAS system conventionally required.
what strategically. In what might be interpreted
His ability to use the pre-RAS system
as a tactic, a tiny practice of everyday resistance,
established a sense of trust between
some people purposefully did not bother to learn
himself and potential clients and appar-
the RAS system, consciously disregarding the new,
ently loosened up the real estate market.
l m ht
“official” system as a means of resisting ideological
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I T jou P I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w / /
domination.10 One woman for example, recounted
Examining the ways in which placenames
a conversation to me in which a tourist asked her
are used as wayfinding devices in
for directions to
Forest Street. The
help us better
woman replied that
she didn’t know
only how people
where Forest Street
may respond to
was because they
had just got the road
tion, but also the
names in a couple
of years ago and
ship between the
she hadn’t bothered
of space and
yet. Her response
strongly asserted her stance against changing so-
personal and social identity. In other
cioeconomic circumstances in that area. As another
words, people do not give directions
example of strategic manipulation, I learned of a
uniformly and space is not something
real estate agent who purposefully memorized the
“out there” as a concrete fact to be
wayfinding cues of the pre-RAS system (such as the
found objectively. Rather, people give
: p t t
names of homesteading families and buildings that no longer existed) in order to sell houses, despite
directions according to who they think they are, who they want others to think they are (e.g., the real estate agent), who their audience is, and how they perceive their relationship to that audience.
Dorion, Henri. 2000. “Should All Unofficial Placenames Be Eliminated?” Names 48(3–4):249– 55.
Gabbert, Lisa. “Naming Places: Re-Shaping and Re-Modeling through Local Linguistic Practices.” Midwestern Folklore 26(2) (2000):5–10.
Basso, Keith H. 1988. “‘Speaking with Names’: Language and Landscape among the Western Apache.” Cultural Anthropology 3(2):99–129.
Interview by author. McCall, Idaho 8 July 2005. Previously published: Gabbert, Lisa. “Distanciation and the Recontextualization of Space: Finding One’s Way in a Small Western Community.” Journal of American Folklore 120/476 (2007):178–203.
The process of implementing the Rural Addressing System took a number of years. According to city council minutes, an ordinance requiring house numbers to be adopted was passed in 1975 but not enforced since residents could not comply with the requirement that they be visible from the street. In 1984 and 1985, the police chief was again ordered to enforce the house number ordinance, but street signs still had not been installed due to lack of time and money. A proposal was made to include them as part of the 1987 budget or alternatively to install them partially over the next several years to offset the costs. (Taken from McCall City Council minutes, August 5 1974; January 7, 1975; July 16 1984; September 5, 1985; June 2, 1986). The term “grid” is used metaphorically here simply to mean a space upon which points can be plotted. The streets of McCall are not literally laid out in a symmetrical plane consisting of equal horizontal and vertical lines.
Scott, James C. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
: p t t
l m ht
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I T jou P I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w / /
Warroad, MN, received its fighting name from being located on the mouth of a war path once used by the Sioux to invade Chippewa territory. The city was once one of the largest Chippewa Villages in the Lake of the Woods region, and the Chippewa fought long and fierce battles against the Sioux for control of the lake’s rice fields.
Radner, Joan N., and Susan Lanser. 1993. “Strategies of Coding in Women’s Cultures.” In Feminist Messages: Coding in Women’s Folk Culture, 1–30. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
10. For the concept of tactic, see de Certeau, Michel. 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press. In his examination of the use of placenames in 19th century Stockholm, Allan Pred suggests that the purposeful disregard of official placenames by the working classes was a means of symbolic resistance to ideological domination. See Pred, Allan. 1992. “Languages of Everyday Practice and Resistance: Stockholm at the End of the Nineteenth Century.” In Reworking Modernity: Capitalisms and Symbolic Discontent, ed. Allan Pred and Michael John Watts, pp. 118–54. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Hopeulikit, GA, was named after a local dance hall that was popular during the big band swing era. It no longer exists today, but lives on in local memory. Two Egg, FL, may have been founded before the Civil War, but it didn’t get its moniker until the Great Depression. The city was once named Allison after a company that built a saw mill in town, but later became Two Egg when legend has it, two boys traded eggs for sugar so much at a store during the hard-hit 1930s, regulars started calling the store “Two Egg.” Times improved in the Florida city by 1940, but the name Two Egg has not left the area since.
Giddens, Anthony. 1990. The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press
n 1950, Hot Springs, NM, decided to change its name to Truth or Consequences, after the popular 1940s NBC radio program by the same moniker. When show host Ralph Edwards called on any town in America to change its name to the show title to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary, Truth or Consequences, NM was born.
navigate. Clemens served as
and author Joan Didion
a steamboat pilot as a young
wrote in her collection of
man, an experience he reflects
autobiographical essays about
on in later years with his
life in California in the ’60s
memoir Life on the Mississippi.
(The White Album), “A place
It’s a memoir that not only
belongs forever to whoever
serves as a sweeping historical
claims it hardest, remembers it
narrative of Twain, but of the
most obsessively, wrenches it
river itself, and his collected
from itself, shapes it, renders
observations of the mélange of
it, loves it so radically that
communities that congregated
he remakes it in his image.”
on its waters and at its shores
Didion was commenting on the
at the height of Manifest
idea that some places simply
The Literary Terrain belong to certain writers,
such as “Oxford, Mississippi,
Amidst Twain’s signature mix
belongs to William Faulkner.”
of reverence and humor for
It’s not surprising that Faulkner,
antebellum river life, he also
an author who drew so much
demonstrates an impressive
literary inspiration from the
cartographic knowledge of
place where he grew up,
the Mississippi. The very first
looked to Mark Twain as “the
paragraph of Twain’s Life
first truly American Writer.”
on the Mississippi reads like something out of a USGS
Samuel Clemens was a writer
pamphlet. “Considering the
who formed much of his
Missouri its main branch,
literary identity alongside
it is the longest river in the
the great Mississippi River in
world—four thousand three
his hometown of Hannibal,
hundred miles,” he explains
Missouri; his pen name, Mark
in introducing us to a river he
Twain, was in fact a river term
used by steamboat pilots to indicate that the water was 12 feet deep and thus safe to
It is a remarkable river in this: that instead
of widening toward its mouth, it grows narrower; grows narrower and deeper. From the junction of the Ohio to a point halfway down to the sea, the width averages a mile in high water: thence to the sea the width steadily diminishes until, at the ‘Passes,’ above the mouth, it is but little over half a mile.
unpublished chapter of the
The nature of the river is
novel in his memoir, and
so vast and encompassing,
describes the urge to write
Twain eventually likens his
the book as coming from
knowledge of it to reading a
a desire to capture “the
book. “And it was not a book
annual processions of mighty
to be read once and thrown
rafts that used to glide by
aside,” he writes, “for it had
Hannibal when I was a boy
a new story to tell every day.
. . .the rude ways and the
Throughout the long twelve
tremendous talk of their big
hundred miles there was
crews, the ex-keelboatmen
never a page that was void of
and their admiringly
interest, never one that you
form. He remarks that the
could leave unread without loss . . .There was never so
Imagine if Twain never
the river’s ever-changing
m t h .
T N E ribe T N sc O b C u s Y m/ L ON l.co N rna O I u T o P j I R pse C S and B im l U g S w. w w / /
as well as perplex Twain is
But what seems to infatuate
any shape at all,” he muses.
of Mark Twain The Mississippi river’s “disposition to make
wonderful a book written
experienced these early
by man; never one whose
years of mental and literal wrestling with the river. Reading Twain over a
hundred years after his
death, it’s hard to know
prodigious jumps by cutting
through necks of land...have thrown several river towns
By Rachel Sapin
out into the rural districts,
and built up sand bars and
: p t t
forests in front of them.” One
subject Twain reflects on with awe is how he ever learned to navigate the Mississippi river to begin with. “It was plain that I had to learn the shape of the river in all the different ways it could be thought of—upside down, wrong end first, inside out, fore-and-aft... and then know what to do on gray nights when it hadn’t
interest was so absorbing,
which character is more
so unflagging, so sparklingly
shrouded in American lore
renewed with every reperusal.”
today: the Mississippi River or Twain himself. w
Through his own unflagging interest in this epic river, Twain
created a canonical work
of American literature, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain’s Huck is still in its nascent form in Life on the Mississippi; he includes an
Twain, Mark. Life on the Mississippi. NY: Buccaneer Books, 1986, 13.
issue 8 Cartography
Many Rivers, 2009. Inlaid maps, acrylic, on panel. 48 x 78 inches. ÂŠ 2011 Matthew Cusick. Image courtesy of the artist.
issue 8 Cartography
Kara’s Wave, 2009. Inlaid maps, acrylic, on panel. 24 x 36 inches. © 2011 Matthew Cusick. Image courtesy of the artist.
Cartography and Humanism Concordances and discordances by Yi-Fu Tuan
artography and humanism are concordant in
over which their soldiers march. It is no accident
that they have much in common, yet discordant
that geography as a school subject received a
in that they have incompatible components. The same may be
said of geography and humanism, which
Cartography is a tool
is hardly surprising, since cartography is a key tool and subfield of geography. My progress, discussing the concordances first and then the discordances, will not be
geography and humanism have overlaps
boost in France after the national defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 was attributed to ignorance of geography. Germany and Great Britain vied for empire in Africa from the mid-1880s onward, and success depended, in large part, on exploration, mapping and knowledge of geography. World
and differences that make it hard to say
War I gave the subject a further
whether I am addressing the one or the
boost in Europe.1 As for the United
other, or both. In what follows, the word “landscape” will
States, geography is inexplicably neglected in
appear often. It, too, is a hybrid concept, falling between
schools, all too often taught superficially under
cartography and the fine arts, science and the humanities.
“social studies.” American military academies are an exception. Surveying, map interpretation
and an understanding of landforms are necessary parts of their curriculum.2
oncordance is most evident in power and aesthetics. To a lesser degree, it is manifest in technique, use and correct
Humanism emerged during the Renaissance, when
representation or accuracy. Of course, correct representation
an awareness of classical antiquity’s achievements
is a desideratum of cartography, but it is also an aim of
gave elite Europeans of the 15th and 16th centuries
landscape painting—both products of a resurgent humanism
a heightened confidence in what they, too, could
and displays of human skill, knowledge and power.
achieve. The gains in knowledge were large and various, but uneven. Take cartography: On the
Cartography is a tool for possession, civil and military.
one hand, the Renaissance gave rise to superior
In civil contests, the claimant to land has a better chance
map projections; on the other, it continued the
of winning his case in a court of law if charts show the
cosmographies of the medieval period that
boundaries of his claim. It would seem that the lines
could beguile an explorer like Columbus. Where
themselves carry authority. In military contests, the role of
geographical facts were scarce, mapmakers
maps is critical. Commanders must know the lay of the land
allowed themselves much freedom to embroider.
Strangely, landscape artists were more likely to hew to the
As in Europe, maps bespoke power. Military
facts since they strove to record what their eyes saw. They
cartography emerged early in China. Silk maps
were, in this sense, more ”scientists“ than ”artists,” though
dating back to 150 BCE show army installations
both terms had yet to be invented and gain acceptance.
and headquarters. Color, used to differentiate geographical features, could have been a credit to
Landscape painting dominates reality’s multiple elements by
the cartographer’s technical sophistication or his
arranging them into a unified whole. Confining the elements
aesthetic sensibility. As for landscape painting, it
within an arbitrary frame enhances this sense of a whole.
first appeared as a major genre of art in the Tang
Mapping, too, confines many elements within an arbitrary
Dynasty (618-907), and rose to a new peak in the
frame that, unlike in a landscape, do not add up to a whole—a composition or picture. Commonalities, however, do exist Take technique: Long before cartographers invented hachures and contours, they landscape painters did. Maps had practical uses, whereas landscape paintings did not. Yet, even in this regard, the difference was not always clear-cut. Some landscape paintings depicted houses, streets and farms from a high-enough angle and with sufficient accuracy to be the portrait of an actual place; one can imagine them being used
in purpose and execution
arts but manufacturing and trade flourished. could
humanism, a term of Western coinage, should be limited to the West. Yet, if one means by it simply a sharp rise in people’s awareness of their individuality, dignity and capacity to initiate and create, applying it to China’s Tang
for orientation as though they were maps.
is justified, especially if it
As for aesthetics, it guided mapmaking
leads to comparative studies
almost as much as it did landscape painting.
Long after cartographers ceased producing
beautiful mappaemundi and decorating their maps with
instance of such dynamism. Though the question
mythical beasts, they retained a keen interest in the look of
is bound to arise: How can landscape painting
their product. Only the means to achieve the desired look
indicate human power when its message is the
became far more abstract. It is no exaggeration to say that in
vastness of nature, compared with which human
our own time, the finest maps are works of art—realistic, as
beings are insignificant? True, one way to view
in USGS topographic quadrangles; abstract, as in thematic
a typical Chinese landscape is to submit to its
maps of great range and power.
awesome scale. But, if we look closely, we find that
it nonetheless accommodates human needs: the river carries fishermen’s boats; a trail penetrates the mountain vastness allowing the man on his
ore than in Europe, in China, cartography and
donkey to reach his destination; the splendid
landscape art dovetailed in purpose and execution
view itself is at the disposal of a hermit drinking
such that they could almost seem one joint venture.
tea in his hut. More radically, landscape painting
showed mountains as side views, just as
both times when not only the issue 8
and emerge when we view them historically.
Song Dynasty (960-1279)—
domesticates wildness by reducing it to the size of a scroll, which can then be brought into the house and hung on the wall. Human power is such that an artist can turn the wildest nature into a pet. In Europe, cartography, even while it retained a taste for beauty, progressively distanced itself from the fine arts and humanities. China’s story is different in that cartography, its early scientific/empirical start notwithstanding, never lost its close tie to these disciplines. One reason lies in conservatism. Chinese map makers saw no need to depart from representing mountains as side views. The prestige of landscape painting itself might have played a role in this regard. Second, such was the prestige of writing that, rather than depending on cartography, the Chinese resorted to ever more detailed and precise forms of verbal description. Third, in China, landscape paintings drawn from a high angle could satisfy a basic function of maps: orientation.3
he discordances between cartography and humanism are at their sharpest in three areas: time,
emotion and morality. Time and emotion are, however, so intertwined that they have to be addressed together as well as in seriatim. Geography and its principal visual tool, maps, are about space and spatial relations. History, by contrast, is centered on time and, in particular, on events that have beginnings, Hall in Mountains, Dong Yuan (ca. 934–962)
middles and ends. History is, for the most part, told through narrative or storytelling—the natural way to deal with directional time. To escape this bind, some historians have opted to limit the period of their study to, say, a single year. Moreover, to ensure that they are still not tempted to tell a story, they select a year during which nothing special happens. Examples are Jérôme Carcopino’s Daily Life in Ancient Rome and Ray Huang’s provocatively titled 1587: A Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline.
The time span thus curtailed, historians’ works
perspective, or, in China, by the technique of
become barely distinguishable from those of
placing features (say, mountains) one behind
another such that their outlines grow more faint
traditionally avoided studying societies that show
with each recession.
clear development. Anthropologists are best known for researching primitive, seemingly timeless ways of
Maps do not conjure up spaciousness, much less
living. Geographers, for their part, focus on ordinary
time, even when they depict a continent. They
people whose lives are repetitive and cyclical rather
cannot do so, in part, because points separated by
than directional. Until recently, geographers have
thousands of miles are reduced to inches that can
avoided major events. In the United States, the Civil War certainly counts as one, and it is noteworthy that
also because they inform rather than hint. Nothing on a map is
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purposefully hidden. Mountains are exposed, not tucked away
have no doubt produced maps and
one behind another. For lack of
atlases showing lines of battle, the
the power to project distance,
numbers of soldiers and civilians
maps do not generate frisson, a
killed and wounded, and other
sense of the unknown and the
data; but, lacking the temporal
unknowable; in short, mystery.
dimension, maps are bloodless and
give no hint of the violence and
To clarify further the difference
anguish of war.
and mapping, I offer a miniature
As for time in landscape paintings, I
history of landscape painting,
have noted that when the viewpoint
itself an intermediary between
is high, the landscape so perceived
cartography and the fine arts,
is like a map and is essentially static.
science and non-science-driven
A landscape painting can, of course, show dynamic
endeavors. Landscape hardly existed in medieval
events such as the cavalry charging toward a platoon
: p t t
paintings, dominated, as they were, by religious
of foot soldiers, but as a frozen moment. The viewer
figures and biblical stories. Mountains and rivers,
realizes that the horsemen and the soldiers will
where they were shown, appeared flat, more
never meet, and the initial excitement of seeing the
symbolic than real. The sun was a gold disk
charge dissipates. On the other hand, even without
high in the sky, a position that conformed with
human figures, landscape paintings can evoke
a vertical conception of space and a cyclical
emotion. Unlike the map’s abstract signs, concrete
conception of time. So located, the sun couldn’t
cast the shadows that, at a later date, would
streams, trees, clouds, roads and buildings—are
unify topographic elements into landscape. As
themselves evocative. Moreover, as a composition,
European society became more secular, the sun
the landscape painting suggests distance in time and
was lowered to the horizon and appeared as a
space—an openness toward the unseen and beyond
patch of light or blue sky, rather than a gold disk.
that excites. In the West, it can do so by means of
The viewer’s eyes were drawn to it or to some
T . N E ribe that an artist T N sc O b C can turn the u s LY m/ N o wildest c O nature . l a N n r a pet IO into u T IP sejo R SC imp B SU w.gl w w / /
significantly to its literature.4 They
geographers have not contributed
be encompassed at a glance; and
other prominent object, such as a church. Space was what one saw looking outward rather than upward; it was horizontal rather than, as in the Middle ages, vertical. So reoriented, space, for the first time, invited a temporal, directional reading. Where the viewer stood was the present. The patch of light or distant object toward which he could travel was the
l m ht
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I T jou P I R pse C S im B SU w.gl w w / /
p t t h
Theatrum orbis terrarum. Ortelius, Abraham, 1527-1598. Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
future; or it was the past, what he would see if he cast a backward glance.5 Maps do not invite such a reading. Their space, though defined by the cardinal points, is directionless. True, arrows and other conventional symbols can indicate
human activities that have direction and purpose,
the fragrance of mowed grass, the sound of
but these abstract signs and notations appeal to the
children roller-skating, the silence that follows a
intellect rather than to the emotion.
heavy snowfall, the warmth of an exposed brick wall, the coolness of a glass-topped table, the
Emotion, considered apart from time, marks an-
games of scrabble in the den, the conversations
other major discordance between cartography and
after dinner and the quarrels before bedtime. Of
humanism. I can best convey what I mean by draw-
course, what “home” is varies from person to
ing attention to “place” and ”space.” Place is the
person, culture to culture, but all understandings
densely particular, an entity toward which one can
of it must engage with an inchoate density that
be deeply attached. Space, by contrast, is imperson-
exceeds the density of most other types of place.
al and open. It can, however, be humanized—a first step toward
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intimate space, it is the subtlety
T . N E ribe T N sc O of sound, and b C u s Y m/ L N especially sight, O l.co N routreach na O spatial I T jou P I e abstract R psand C S im B SU w.gl thought are w w / promoted, and /
this difference lies in that human
beings possess both proximate and distant senses. With the
of language rather than the
precision of numerical data and spatial analysis; in other words,
proximate senses of touch, taste
the method of the humanities
and smell, the tone and atmo-
rather than that of geography
sphere of one’s immediate en-
With the distant senses of sound,
and especially sight, spatial out-
perhaps the most important
reach and abstract thought are
source of discordance between
promoted, and human power
enlarged. Geography as a disci-
morality. Complicating morality
pline encompasses both place
is its relationship to aesthetics.
and space but, for historical rea-
Aesthetics, we have seen, is
sons, it has favored space over
integral to both cartography
place, making it more a science
and the humanities. Morality,
than a humanism. As such, its
on the other hand, is more the
: p t t
treatment, even of place, tends
toward the abstract—that is, toward a place’s spatial characteristics, its mappable externalities.
human power enlarged.
As for the interiorities of place, geographers and cartographers
central concern of humanists: philosophers,
writers. When the Biblical God separated light from darkness and land from water, he declared the result “good”: that is to say, he found his work aesthetically
have little to say, their techniques being rather ill-
pleasing. In this archetypal example, the good and
suited to their probing. One type of place—home—
the beautiful are concordant; they are practically
is especially challenging by virtue of its elusive
the same thing. Beauty, however, may well be a
intimacies: I think of the food odors of kitchen,
cover for evil. A task of literature is to explore and
richness of a fully lived life in
which is to map it. The root of
If any method can capture the
expose evil in all its guises. Language, however,
their visual surface, but repelled by their content? Or
seems to favor evil, being richer and more
should one attend solely to the technicalities of color
evocative when it speaks of it than when it speaks
and brush stroke?
of good. Tolstoy’s War and Peace is a case in point. In this great novel, Tolstoy shows the horror
Compared with literature and history, cartography is
and pointlessness of war, but he fails to make war
innocence itself. Of course, maps can be biased and
so dull that no one can wish to participate in it, or
have often been used for propaganda. Nevertheless,
read about it. On the other hand, the goodness
their restriction to abstract patterns and conventional
of family life—Natasha showing off the stain in
signs means that they cannot truly depict good and
her baby’s diaper—invites the yawn even when one is led to it by Tolstoy’s masterly hand.
proper to them. Consider maps drawn by cartography students at
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the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
T . N E ribe T and history, N sc O b C u s cartography is LY m/ N o c O . l innocence itself. a N n IO ur T IP sejo R SC imp B SU w.gl w w / /
Pictorial art is similarly con-
tradictory and paradoxical.
They cover two sides of a corridor in Science Hall. From a distance,
It is, however, far more so in
the sixty-five maps provide a splash
the West than in China, where
of color. Upon closer look, I see an
only beauty and goodness are
extraordinary range of information.
admissible subjects. Chinese
It would seem that whatever is
still life paintings show fruits
communicable in words is also
72 that GLIMPSE www.glimpsejournal.com
evil, or arouse the sorts of emotion
are always fresh, flow-
communicable in images. Traffic
ers that are always in bloom.
noise in the Twin Cities? Viking
European still life paintings
of the 17th and 18th centuries,
Return of the wolf in Wisconsin?
by contrast, seem almost an
Decaying Polish cities? National
excuse to broach the subject
awareness of global warming?
of mortality: fruits that look
inviting show, upon closer study, discoloration and
Ten out of the sixty-five maps reveal something
other signs of decay. Paintings in Europe are in-
negative: for example, a natural disaster such as
tended as much to arouse and educate as to give
the San Diego wildfires or a disaster that is humanly
: p t t
pleasure. Exposure since the Middle Ages has
caused such as AIDS in southern Africa; or it is a
taught eyes to be unflinching to pictures of suf-
morally questionable event, an example being the
fering saints, tortured martyrs and blood-stained
establishment of American military bases throughout
Christs. Grim religious art paved the way for artists
the world; or it shows how economic stress can affect
of a more secular age to depict the commonplace
community health in Michigan, the subtext of which
and the rowdy: Hieronymous Bosch’s Haywagon
is the prior existence of socioeconomic inequality
(ca. 1500); the repellent: Rembrandt’s The Slaugh-
and injustice. Whatever the subject matter, its
tered Ox (1655); and the psychologically disturb-
cartographic portrayal is unintentionally pleasing.
ing: Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893). In front
An example is the map showing decaying Polish
of such works and more extreme ones in the 20th
cities. The shades of blue and straw yellow, from
century, how is the viewer to feel? Attracted by
which circles of red and orange stand out brightly,
Joerg, W. L. G. ”Recent Geographical Work in Europe,” Geographical Review, vol. 12, 1922, pp. 445-447.
The literature on military geography, though little known to academic geographers, is vast. By 1963, there were already approximately 1,000 items. L. C. Peltier, ed., Bibliography of Military Geography (Washington, D.C.: Association of American Geographers, 1963), 76 mimeographed pages. By 1990, the United States Military Academy published A Bibliography of Military Academy in four volumes (West Point, New York).
Yee, Cordell D. K. ”Cartography in China“ in J. B. Harley and David Woodward, eds., The History of Cartography (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), vol. 2, book 2, pp. 35-231; Yi-Fu Tuan, ”Charting the Actual and the Imagined,” Natural History, July, 1994, pp. 26-31.
for cities in varying stages of decay did I become a little queasy. To take a more extreme example, what should a map that shows Nazi concentration camps and mass burial sites look like? What can it look like when the available means of representation are color, shading, signs and symbols?
have compared and contrasted cartography with humanism, using “humanism” as a convenient
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not severely reductive or abstractive and that, unlike
An example of a geographical essay on the Civil War is Joseph P. Henderson’s ”A Military Geography of the Civil War: The Blue Ridge and Valley and Ridge Province,” in Eugene J. Palka and Francis A. Galgano, The Scope of Military Geography (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000), pp. 53-73.
Yi-Fu Tuan, Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes, and Values (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), pp.133-136.
cartography and the applied sciences, also do not strive to be practical. I find this distinction of value,
for it encapsulates what it means to be human. To be human is to be a cartographer, engaged with
mapping and understanding the world “out there” so as to be oriented, and to be oriented is to gain some
T . N E ribe T N sc O b C u s LY m/ N O l.co N rna O I T jou P I R pse C S im w B SU w.gl w w / /
term to cover all the intellectual endeavors that are
sort of control, a necessity of survival. On the other hand, to be human is also to be intimately engaged
with one’s fellow creatures, with locality and home, with ”here“ rather than ”there,” with memory and hope, good and evil, life and death.
century BC with the Han Dynasty. The name “Silk Road,” coined by 19th-century German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen, serves as an oversimplification for an array of trade routes that crisscrossed Eurasia for thousands of years. These routes crossed through every kind of terrain and almost every kind of climate, and also engendered an unprecedented amount of interaction between what were before disparate and often isolated cultures. Marco Polo, one of the Silk Road’s most famous travelers, reflected on his experience traversing it, “there has been no man . . .who has known or explored so many of the various parts of the world and its great wonders.”
Silk Road Maps
:he Silk Road served as the primary overland trade route from China to the p t ht TMediterranean. Some historians believe the Silk Road started in the second
are a delight to see. Only when I realized, through reading the legend, that the reds and oranges stood
(Above) Map showing the distribution of the slave population of the southern states of the United States, by Edwin Hergesheimer, 1861. Published by Henry S. Graham. 66x84cm. Image courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. View online: http://maps.bpl.org/details_14001/?mtid=1117
Mapping History: The Boston Public Library casts new look on the Civil War by Meghan O’Reilly It’s surprising to think that cultural tension can be mapped: that economic differences and opposing visions for the future can be detected on a flat piece of paper. Yet that is precisely what the Boston Public Library’s exhibition Torn in Two: The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War demonstrates. Showcasing maps from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, the exhibit ion examines the relationship between conflict and geography during the American Civil War.
The first of the exhibition’s three sections, “Rising Tensions,” interprets the geographic and demographic differences that contributed to the first shots at Fort Sumner in 1861. Maps depicting the USin the 1850s reveal the incongruous settlement patterns that belie the cultural incompatibility between the North and South. The dense conglomeration of cities, roads and railways in the North is jarringly different from the spacious South, whose agricultural economy depended more upon the Mississippi River than on trains. Indeed, the pre-war maps of the South have a
(Left) Panoramic View of the Gettysburg Battlefield. 1866. 38x38cm. Not drawn to scale. Image courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. View online: http://maps.bpl. org/details_14352/?dl_ pp=9&mtid=1117
The second section, “Nation in Conflict” addresses how cartography functioned during the war, both in terms of military tactics and popular engagement. Notably, most maps displayed in this section were published in the North. While the
The final section of the exhibition examines how memory is recorded in maps. Focusing on the decisive battle of Gettysburg, we are asked how our “common visual experience” arose from incongruous recollections of the conflict. We learn how technological advances, the advent of photography, and the federal government’s increasing power influenced cartography, and finally, we consider how slave narratives have helped modern historians map the Underground Railroad. With its wealth of documents and textual guides, the Torn in Two exhibition is valuable for cartog-
With maps of the Western territories from the 1850s, the exhibition makes us consider what was at stake for Americans in the years before the Civil War. The country was undoubtedly expanding after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and the KansasNebraska Act of 1854 allowed settlers to decide on slavery’s legality by popular vote. Whose lifestyle would prevail in the new territories? Which region’s economic and moral values would dominate as the United States fulfilled its manifest destiny? One map of “the territories whose fate has yet to be decided,” illustrates the geographic and political scale of these questions. The North in blue, the South in red, the West in neutral white, one wonders what color will ultimately dye the vast, virgin West.
Boston exhibit is perhaps biased towards Bostonian maps (Boston and New York were also major publishing hubs), it’s true that in the 1860s, maps of Dixie were in high demand. The North, on the offensive, was at a tactical disadvantage. Neither politicians nor the general public knew much about Southern geography, and were thus hungry for more information. The exhibition asserts that the Civil War (not Vietnam!) was the first “Living Room War,” for even in an era predating living rooms, the media allowed the public to stay abreast of the action. Indeed, newspapers published over 2,000 maps and diagrams throughout the course of the war, more than they’d ever published before. The increased interest and political urgency led to great improvements in cartography during the Civil War.
feudal quality, as plots of land are labeled and color-coded according to family ownership rather than administrative county. The section also showcases an interesting map charting the concentration of slave populations by township in the South. Apparently, Abraham Lincoln also found it fascinating, and used it to link emancipation policies with military operations.
(Above) Historical sketch of the rebellion, by Henry Lindenkohl. Published by United States Coast Survey, 1864. 47x45cm. Scale: 1:5,850,000. Image courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. View online: http://maps.bpl.org/details_14546/?dl_pp=6&mtid=1117
raphy and history enthusiasts alike. In fact, itâ€™s valuable for anyone who has ever considered what unifies the United States, or who has ever questioned the permanence and authority of the seemingly static map. Can a map unite or divide a nation? Can it record the hopes and fears of a people? Can it mandate our collective memory? If you want to jog your brain down the roads these questions lead to, through the tangles of war, race and nationalism, the exhibition continues at the Boston Public Library through 2011. But beware: these roads, and these answers, are as yet uncharted territory. w
Torn in Two: The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War Boston Public Library Mayâ€“December 2011 700 Boylston St. Boston, MA 02116 http://maps.bpl.org
The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography by Meghan O’Reilly
Robb opens our eyes
Yet in The Discovery of France: a Historical Geography, historian Graham Robb dissects this orderly package of Parisian culture to reveal the disharmonious, chaotic truth of French history. In a vast yet detailed account, Robb examines the discombobulation of languages, ethnicities, and cultures that compose the France we know today. He opens our eyes to the vivid, savage France, where geographically isolated populations thrived without knowing they were French, much less speaking French. A noted biographer of Balzac, Hugo and Rimbaud, Graham Robb confesses that writing the historical geography was both a mental and physical endeavor: the fruit of fourteen thousand miles of cycling and four years in the library. Robb artfully layers historical and contemporary statistics, maps, and anecdotes to paint a complete tableau of France.
to the vivid, savage France, where
isolated populations thrived without
“Hostile aliens” is precisely the term one would have used in 1740 to describe the villagers of Les Estables who butchered a young cartographer in Cassini’s team. Suspicious of his tools, his clothing, and the incomprehensible French he spoke, the people of this isolated village in the Massif Central collectively decided to kill the geometer, and were never afterwards punished. The villagers were conscious of maps’ consequences; charts, records, and ethnographies were tools of colonization. By killing
knowing they were French
The book opens with a gripping account of an early cartographic expedition in the mid-18th century. Led by astronomer James Cassini and commissioned by Louis XV, the quest was the first attempt to create a national map based on mathematical surveys. While the mission was unprecedented in size, scope, and expense, Louis XV recognized the martial necessity of a complete map of France. Cassini recruited only the most athletic, daring geometers for the endeavor, as the team would travel great distances and often accompany military campaigns. Robb compares the cartographers to astronauts, though he notes that Cassini’s group would have been even more likely to encounter “hostile aliens.”
Anyone who has ever braved the lines at the Louvre knows that France has a certain magic, a certain je ne sais quoi that beckons tourists from all over the world. France, which has given us champagne, Chanel, and 250 different kinds of cheese, possesses a rich, authentic culture that, for many, is the paragon of culture itself.
Resistance to centralization is a recurring theme in French history. Whether in terms of infrastructure, language, or bureaucratic organization, the discrete pays outside of Paris remained relatively isolated until well after the French Revolution. An “official indifference to geographic truth” worked against the urge to explore throughout the 19th century, and in spite of limited government support of cartographic endeavors, even the nation’s hexagonal shape (of whose perfect symmetry many Frenchmen now boast) was unbeknownst to most people. In fact, maps deliberately omitted borders to prevent enemies from infringing on French territory. Yet eventually, as accurate maps were drawn and modern roads constructed, populations migrated and mentalities changed. Maps, roads, and the possibility for exploration opened physical and imaginary access to the mysterious lands outside Paris. They allowed Parisians to romanticize the savage, natural France. They celebrated, as Robb writes, “home grown diversity” and established “the supreme importance of Paris as the guardian and regulator of that diversity.”
The Discovery of France is a geographical, historical, and sociological journey exploring how a nation’s collective identity is linked to its perception of space. In the 21st century, we have extensive access to accurate maps, photographs, and satellite images. Yet as Graham Robb concludes, much of France is still misunderstood. Just as the peasants of Brittany and the Massif Central were, less than one hundred years ago, ridiculed for their foreign peculiarities, so too are colonial North African immigrants of today. Perhaps the next frontiers to traverse are those within our minds and our memories, those that prevent us from seeing the rich expanse of cultural diversity that coexists in a single nation. w
The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography by Graham Robb W.W. Norton, 2007
Film projector. Photo courtesy of flickr member big-ashb. Booker, High Wycombe, England, 2009.
the geometer, the villagers were undermining the power of a foreign government.
In the next issue, Cinema...
issue 8 Cartography
The history of cinematic technologies Maureen Eckert on Plato’s Cave and modern cinema Kevin Corbett explores why so many people are choosing to watch movies in groups in the “festival” setting when NetFlixTM and mobile devices are making it ever-easier to watch in isolation Silver Screen Society re-conceptualizes the art and design of the movie poster Tony Pacitti explores how Star Wars shaped his self-identity Public film projection during the Spring 2011 uprising in Egypt and more...
GLIMPSE issue 8 presents perspectives on the history and human experience of mapping, at varying scales. This issue considers how the symbo...
Published on Oct 20, 2011
GLIMPSE issue 8 presents perspectives on the history and human experience of mapping, at varying scales. This issue considers how the symbo...