The Imperial Map: Cartography and the Mastery of Empire

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James R. Akerman
University of Chicago Press, 2009 - History - 367 pages
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Maps from virtually every culture and period—from Babylonian world maps to Saul Steinberg’s famous New Yorker cover illustration, “View of the World from 9th Avenue”convey our tendency to see our communities as the center of the world (if not the universe) and, by implication, as superior to anything beyond these immediate boundaries. Mapping has long been a tool by which ruling bodies could claim their entitlement to lands and peoples. It is this aspect of cartography that James R. Akerman and a group of distinguished contributors address in The Imperial Map.
Critically reflecting on elements of mapping and imperialism from the late seventeenth century to the early twentieth century, the essays discuss the nature of the imperial map through a series of case studies of empires, from the Qing dynasty of China, to the Portuguese empire in South America, to American imperial pretensions in the Pacific Ocean, among others. Collectively, the essays reveal that the relationship between mapping and imperialism, as well as the practice of political and economic domination of weak polities by stronger ones, is a rich and complex historical theme that continues to resonate in our modern day.

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CHAPTER ONE The Irony of Imperial Mapping
Imperial Maps and Christian Spaces in Seventeenth and Early EighteenthCentury Russian Siberia
CHAPTER THREE Contending Cartographic Claims? The Qing Empire in Manchu Chinese and European Maps
Boundaries Ethnographic Landscapes and Imperial Cartography in Iberoamerica
Charting an Empire of Commerce and Science in the NineteenthCentury Pacific
Mapping the New Imperialism in British and French Newspapers 18751925

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About the author (2009)

James R. Akerman is director of the Newberry Library's Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography and editor of Cartographies of Travel and Navigation and coeditor of Maps: Finding Our Place in the World, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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