After the Map: Cartography, Navigation and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century

After the Map: Cartography, Navigation and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century, by William Rankin

Synopsis: For most of the twentieth century, maps were indispensable. They were how governments understood, managed, and defended their territory, and during the two world wars they were produced by the hundreds of millions. Cartographers and journalists predicted the dawning of a “map-minded age,” where increasingly state-of-the-art maps would become everyday tools. By the century’s end, however, there had been decisive shift in mapping practices, as the dominant methods of land surveying and print publication were increasingly displaced by electronic navigation systems.

In After the Map, William Rankin argues that although this shift did not render traditional maps obsolete, it did radically change our experience of geographic knowledge, from the God’s-eye view of the map to the embedded subjectivity of GPS. Likewise, older concerns with geographic truth and objectivity have been upstaged by a new emphasis on simplicity, reliability, and convenience. After the Map shows how this change in geographic perspective is ultimately a transformation of the nature of territory, both social and political.

2017 WINNER OF THE SIDNEY EDELSTEIN PRIZE FOR THE SOCIETY OF THE HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY

Published: July 2016 | ISBN: 978-0226339368

Book’s Homepage: http://www.afterthemap.info

Mini-bio: William Rankin is assistant professor of the history of science at Yale University. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Author’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/thebillrankin

Interview with Author

“This ambitious and detailed book, elegantly written and illustrated, offers a history of the mapping sciences—or, more precisely, “geographic tools” and “geo-epistemology”—in the 20th century. Moving across cartography, geodesy, and navigation, cartographer Rankin traces a gradual but significant shift in the “nature of territory” from a world of cartographic representation firmly tied to the space of the nation-state to very different understandings premised on the coordinates of the global positioning system (GPS). Alongside detailed historical excavation, the text’s strength is its serious, even unprecedented, attempt to draw together scholarship in cartography and historical geography with the history of science—and with a dose of diplomatic or international history, too. Rankin clearly possesses a formidable understanding of his subject, and approaches maps and related technologies with a delightful precision.” – Choice.

Cartographic Perspectives Book Review
Reviews in History Book Review
Geographical Book Review

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Hardcover Edition: After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century
Kindle Edition: After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century

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