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The New Nature of Maps: Essays in the History of Cartography Hardcover – April 17, 2001
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"The father of critical cartography, and therefore the idea that a map should be understood as more than just a set of directions, was J. B. Harley...The New Nature of Maps... display[s] great erudition." -- Nicholas Lemann, New Yorker
"Harley was an iconoclast, subverting traditional approaches to map-making by drawing together art history, literature, philosophy and visual culture. It's a view that can now be savored in his collected essays, The New Nature of Maps." -- Nick Saunders, New Scientist
"With supreme tact, sympathetic insight into Harley's personality and his own deft scholarship, Laxton has produced... a book worthy of Harley." -- Catherine Delano-Smith, Nature
"Inlcuding Andrew's introduction... we have a debate within the volume, not only postmodernism and its critique, but also other examples of Harley's anit-positivist and anti-Eurocentric approach alongside a potent understanding of the processes and problems of map making." -- Jeremy Black, Imago Mundi
"The 'new nature' of maps reflects the sea change in the discipline of the history of cartography that has occurred, to a remarkable degree instigated by Brian Harley." -- John Cloud, Technology and Culture
From the Author
"Cartographers manufacture power. They create a spatial panopticon. It is a power embedded in the map text. We can talk about the power of the map just as we already talk about the power of the word or about the book as a force for change. In this sense maps have politics. It is a power that intersects and is embedded in knowledge. It is universal." J. B. Harley
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Top customer reviews
While it's true that some of Harley's deployment of Foucault (and Barthes) seems a little perfunctory at times-- perhaps Harley is indeed guilty of a little academic trendiness--in total, I found his arguments to be thought-provoking, and unlike the other reviewer, quite readable. The essay on cartographic ethics is still relevant, perhaps now more than ever as we become further and further immersed in a sea of digital maps with almost as little thought on the subject as ever. Ultimately, the take away message from this book for me was one of skeptical readership. Maps, like any other text, should be read and thought about critically and skeptically. In a similar vein, just because one doesn't agree with all the ideas and arguments presented doesn't mean that they can be dismissed outright.
Harvey was one of the most important cartographic historians of the last 50 years, and I think that he should be cut some slack for his willingness to go out on a limb, coming as he does from a field where some still claim that maps are objective, "scientific" representations of reality.
Even if Harvey's project doesn't completely work in it's entirety, sometimes just asking the questions is a valuable exercise.