The Map as a Graphical Argument

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In the book, Cartography of Disease, Tom Koch presents the idea of the map as a “mapped argument about disease incidence an the environment that promoted it” (p.31), rather than an objective representation of reality.

Earlier in the book, he stated that maps are propositions and that “every map is an argument. Koch argues that maps shape our reality in the same way those realities are influenced by conventional text”. p7.

Thinking about maps in along the lines that Koch argues helps us to understand the deeper meaning of disease maps. This type of thinking helps us to look beyond graphic representations to the theoretical debate that persisted at the time the map was created, and to the particular theoretical position that the map maker took with respect to the debate. This approach to deconstructing map provides an intellectually stimulating way of studying historic disease maps.

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