Deconstructing a Map

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After reading some of the postmodern critique of cartography, one wants to be be able to look at a map and deconstruct it. So, I am putting together some practical questions that map readers can ask themselves as they try to interpret a particular map. A few of these questions are listed below. Suggestions are welcome for additional questions.

1. What is the central message of the map and do you agree with this portrayal of reality?

2. How could you have presented the data differently if you had been the cartographer?

3. Is the message of the map intentional or is it being unwittingly portrayed by the cartographer?

4. What social, political, or cultural “point of view” is the map rooted in?

5. What social relations of power are evident in the visual hierarchy on the map? Visual hierarchy is evident in the use of colors, line width, size of symbols, lettering, etc.

6. Does the purpose of the map differ from its message?


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