My new book

Readers of this blog may be interested in my new book, which I am very pleased to say has just been listed on Amazon. It is called simply Mapping, and is part of the Wiley-Blackwell series on Critical Geographies. This series is aimed at senior undergraduate and graduate (or post-graduate) students, and provides book-length discussions of various parts of geography from a critical perspective. Of course I think it will also be of interest to my colleagues!

This is the cover:

It shows a cartogram developed by Mark Newman and Danny Dorling of world population, ie, each country is distorted to match not its physical size but its population. It also includes the Equator and its noticeable how much of the world’s population is in the global north. (For more on these cartograms, see Newman, Dorling and Anna Barford’s new book, The Atlas of the Real World). The cartogram algorithm for these maps was developed by Mark Newman and Michael Gastner (see Newman’s page). It was actually quite difficult to think of cover images for the book. While perhaps cartograms are a bit too familiar to those in the trade, they are certainly better than the ESRI GIS maps initially suggested by the publisher!

The table of contents:

Chapter 1 Maps––A Perverse Sense of the Unseemly

Chapter 2 What is Critique?

Chapter 3 Maps 2.0 and New Spatial Media

Chapter 4 What is Critical Cartography and GIS?

Chapter 5 How Mapping Became Scientific

Chapter 6 Governing with Maps: Cartographic Political Economy

Chapter 7 The Political History of Cartography Deconstructed: Harley, Gall and Peters

Chapter 8 GIS After Critique: What Next?

Chapter 9 Geosurveillance and Spying with Maps

Chapter 10 Cyberspace and Virtual Worlds

Chapter 11 The Cartographic Construction of Race and Identity

Chapter 12 The Poetics of Space: Art, Beauty and Imagination

Chapter 13 Epilogue: Beyond the Cartographic Anxiety?

I imagine that Chapter 6 will be of most interest to readers of this blog. In it I attempt to discuss mapping in light of Foucault’s work on governmentality, which I have written about elsewhere. I also use Foucault’s approach to critique in an earlier chapter. However, the book is not meant to be “Foucauldian” as such. In fact a manuscript reviewer objected to the Foucault I did use!

I am really glad this book is done. It took me more than six years to write. In fact I was first asked to do this book in 2001, but I said no. They then asked me again a couple of years later (JP Jones is the series editor) and I agreed. But it took me so long to complete that I published another book in the meantime (the Foucault book which initiated this blog) and the publisher was taken over (from Blackwell to Wiley-Blackwell)! The reason is that it’s a lot harder than you think to write for someone else than to write for yourself. When someone else has set the goals of the book, when you’re talking to an audience that is far wider than your normal audience, it is not easy to find the right balance–avoiding both a kind of posturing lecturism on the one hand and over-simplification on the other. (For the record I think Stephen Jay Gould got it about right.)

In their wisdom, the publishers aren’t making this available till next February, which is a non-date as the US semester will already have begun. But at least it’s in paperback and reasonably affordable. In the end I had a lot of fun doing the book, and certainly learned a lot (eg., about map art). I’d like to try writing a popular book again, perhaps even with a non-academic publisher, though we’ll have to see about that.


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