Maps: Finding our place in the world

Jim Akerman and Bob Karrow’s new book is called Maps: Finding our Place in the world and has been released by good old U Chicago Press as part of the Festival of Maps going on there.

Nice title! But then I would think so wouldn’t I since I used the same metaphor in my own book, published by the good ol’ U Chicago Press!

I haven’t received the new book yet but I wonder if they use the idea as I did:

Finding one’s place in the world does not mean seeking and attaining a pre-given slot which is then occupied, for this would be to close off the horizon of possibilities. Nor does it mean the one in the sense of “the they” (this is Dreyfus’ translation of [Heidegger’s] Das Man). Rather, finding one’s place in the world is something shared by all beings for whom being is an issue (Dasein). It is “our ownmost” as Heidegger might say…

We engage with the world and encounter it in mapping and therefore disclose it.

The Political Mapping of Cyberspace, 2003, p. 173.

What does this mean? In the book I go on to contrast this reading with the traditional understanding of maps as recording the confession of the landscape about its truthful identity. Mapping is not just using a map, but also the process of making maps as a constituent part of being in the world. This is why all mapping is political, because its purpose is to decide how to live in the world (what issues are at stake, something is always at issue in mapping isn’t it?), and mapping is the process of finding our place in the world (p. 175).

I don’t claim great originality for this phrase and I’m glad it’s getting another workout in Jim and Bob’s book. I’ve added it to my wishlist…

The Map Room has more coverage.


One Response

  1. The University of Chicago Press has a special web feature to celebrate the publication of Maps: Finding Our Place in the World, the book that accompanies the exhibit at the Field Museum.

    The online feature is called “What Is a Map?” and includes zoomable images of unusual maps from the book, including historical maps, maps of imaginary worlds, and maps on objects, such as the left-handed glove map of the London Exhibition of 1851. Variable magnification of the images reveals details that cannot be seen otherwise.

    See the web feature at

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