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Schäfer, Wolf

Author(s): Ptolemy's Revenge: A Critique of Historical Cartography

Journal: Coordinates : Online Journal of the Map and Geography Round Table of the American Library Association. Series A
ISSN 1553-3247

Issue: 3;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: global history | preglobal geography | globalization | historical cartography | cartographic presentism | historical maps | modern world map | time-space-compression.

This article calls for a new approach to historical cartography. Arguing that cartographic presentism obscures the local geographies of the past, the author reviews the imagery of current historical mapping as geocentric and presentistic. The analysis concentrates on two key images: the ubiquitous image of the globe as the icon of the present and David Harvey’s “time-space compression” chart. Harvey’s paradigmatic diagram and an earlier data map by Eugene Staley are discussed as misleading representations of globalization. The article envisions the alternative of a richer historical cartography that would combine the scientific purview of modern reference maps with historical maps and preglobal perspectives of space.
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