Digital Cartography Mismatches in the Southern Cone Boundaries: A Matter of Geopolitics or a Mere Technical Issue?

Authors: Juan-Manuel Trillo-Santamaría*, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Valerià Paül, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Eduard Rovira, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
Topics: Political Geography
Keywords: cartography, web mapping services, boundaries, states, Souther Cone
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Studio 6, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Border studies have clearly shown that boundaries are artificial conventions, thus geopolitical constructs. In a similar and parallel way, maps and cartographic products trying to represent bounded territories are also human-made representations in a given political, social and cultural context. The relation between boundary demarcation and cartographic representation has been crucial in the nation-state formation since at least the 19th century. But a new representational era has arrived with the widespread availability of web mapping services. How many ways of delineating boundary lines are possible on the Internet? For the same international boundary, are they coincident or do they diverge? These are the departure questions for this paper, focused on the Southern Cone. The Southern Cone appears to be a relevant case-study area given that it constitutes a particular geopolitical region with regular meetings of nation-states representatives. For example, an agreement about security on border regions was signed by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in 2016. In particular, this paper analyzes four different web mapping sources available on the Internet, including the respective official national maps, in order to determine the degree of coincidence between them. Boundary lines are carefully analyzed by overlapping these sources. In general terms, severe differences amongst them are identified. The results are mainly discussed related to the existing dispute zones, even when an agreement has been reached under The Hague, but also other technical reasons for such mismatches (e.g. generalization) are explored.

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