How Maps Change Things

This post is a combination of a book review, an exploration of perspectives, and a call out to another intercultural-focused blog by Cultural Detective, on which this book was previously presented.

The book, How Maps Change Things, is currently available as an ebook from the New Internationalist Shop and Amazon. It will be released in hard copy in June 2012. As the title suggests, this book is about maps but, as stated on page 9, it explores maps from the point of view of:

how we shape and use maps and how they in turn shape us. In short, it’s about you and me and ways of seeing: how we see the world and therefore how weunderstand our place in it, how we connect to it and to all the people with whom we share this spaceship called Earth.

This book presents maps as change agents, unconsciously yet significantly affecting the way we see and interact with the world. To quote the Cultural Detective blog post, the author “shares some terrific stories: one about the role of maps in a territorial dispute between First Nations people and the Canadian government (pages 35-39); another about how a map can skew our view of a country as a source of oil or as a residence of people and families (pages 8-17); and a third showing how a map was used to get one county to pay for a highway interchange that served another county (pages 34-35). There is a chapter about the connection between maps and faith/values (chapter 10 page 141), and how maps are used for disease control and health (page 170), as well as for crime prevention (page 173), a topic of special interest lately with concerns of profiling and ethnic bias.”

In AFS, we aim to provide our audiences with a more global view of peoples and cultures, and this book inspires its readers to reflect on how one understands the world and how/why we see it the way we do.

Next time you look at a map, think about how the way the geography/borders/regions are presented and how this might be influencing how you think about the world, and its relationships, cultures, peoples, and nations.

 

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