Mapping Realities: Map Projections in a Post-Colonial World

Authors: Kaitlyn Cook*, George Washington University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Cartography, Social Theory
Keywords: map projections, colonialism, globalization, social theory
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Maps are the only way that people are able to see the entire world at one time. However, the process of creating a global map always includes distortion and most map projections tend to focus this distortion either at the poles or around the equator. The way that map projections are chosen and where the distortion appears is inherently political. The distortions, even when not focused around the equator, have had a negative effect on how the global community views colonized areas, such as South America and Africa, throughout history and continuing into the present day. Global map projections are more than just symbolic of a single government’s authority, and instead demonstrate how European colonialism still has a tangible effect on how people view and construct the entire globe. Map projections, in particular the Mercator projection, favor a Western authority and view of what the world looks like and how a map should be viewed. This poster will apply anthropological social theory onto the study of map projections and the choices, subconsciously or not that went into creating them, to demonstrate how they have allowed people around the world to construct a Eurocentric world reality.

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