井底之蛙

4/20/2007

Maps and Empire

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 7:52 pm

Maps have been an important part of empire in China for a long time. In the Warring States period spies were always trying to steal maps, and defeated states presented maps of their territory to the victors as a sign of submission. Geographic knowledge written down in books like the Classic of Mountians and Seas was avidly collected as a way of learning the universal patterns of the universe. Needless to say there has been a lot written in the last decade or so about how cartography connects to empire, as it fits in so well with whole postmodern power/knowledge thing. To map a place is to control it, and thus empire-builders were always interested in mapping. I have not found many better visual representations of this than this map of Russian cartography on China, found on the CHGIS site.

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