Biology, Cartography and Geography, Press Releases

Press Release: Denis Wood and John Fels, The Natures of Maps

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Any time we plan a trip, whether it’s as simple as a trek to the other side of town or as complicated as a cross-country drive, our journeys are influenced, guided, and even inspired by maps. Road maps get us to our destinations, while maps of attractions like national parks and wilderness areas entice us to include such wonders in our vacation plans. But do those maps do more than just show off the natural beauties they describe? Could there be hidden agendas at work in even a map as seemingly benign as a National Park Service map of the Grand Canyon?
According to Denis Wood and John Fels, the answer is a resounding yes. Cartographers have agreed for decades that territorial or political maps are far from objective representations of reality; rather, maps can’t help but reflect the agendas and intentions of their creators. Until now, however, maps of nature—from depictions of bird migration routes to state park campground maps—have been left out of this analysis. Both researchers and map users—including many who should know better—have wrongly presumed that such maps are strictly scientific, free from the subtexts or biases that mar other maps. With The Natures of Maps, Wood and Fels are here to show otherwise.
Using stunning full-color reproductions of a wide variety of maps, The Natures of Maps reveals all the hidden ways in which maps make claims about the natural world and our place in it. Looking at everything from color schemes to titles to even the ways maps are folded, Wood and Fels show us the secrets under the surface—and teach us to read the natural world with fresh eyes.
Read the press release.