Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

<< Kartographie, Kartosemiotik und moderne Gesellschaft | Cartography, Cartosemiotics and Modern Society

Role of Cartographical Thinking in Formation of Stereotypes of Modern Societies

Giedre Beconyte (Centre for Cartography, Vilnius University), Michael Govorov (Malaspina University College, Canada)


Maps as "texts" in a specific visual language have been used by people from ancient times. They complement spoken (and gesture) language due to the limitations of its visual expression. Usually maps are designed to simply describe the geographic reality and desirably convey information in a way that does not leave much space for possible misinterpretation. It has been, however, demonstrated that maps also can be and actually have been used to hide or distort the facts in order to manipulate people’s minds. On the other hand, cartography may become a powerful tool to foster tolerance, open-mindedness, and perception of the world as a single continuous whole where everything intertwines in logical patterns (i.e., genuine geographic/spatial thinking). Thus we can talk about impact of cartographic production on formation of people’s thinking all over the world.

Different social and cultural stereotypes are also related with geographic knowledge, which is acquired through maps. More than that, some side-effects of watching maps manifest in imaginations about places (and times) distant and barely known. Nowadays modern technologies and vast amounts of geographic data are available to support the communication of geographic information, making it much more intense than ever before. It depends on the map makers, whether the "side-effect" of cartographic mass production will be beneficial for modern societies. On the other hand, particular society groups may have different interpretations of intended spatial deliveries.

We attempt to analyze the structure of impact of cartography on stereotypes of modern societies, providing examples of its reflection on maps in people’s mind (mental maps). Socio-cultural factors which determine interpretation of maps in different societies are also examined.

Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9. - 11. december 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-09-05