Wall Maps and Worldviews

in Rhumb Lines and Map Wars

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780226534312
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226534329 | DOI:
Wall Maps and Worldviews

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The equatorial Mercator world map is pervasively entrenched in the wall-map trade, although most wall-map catalogs offer world maps on other projections. Wall-map publishers readily embraced the Mercator map's rectangular format, which conveniently matched the straight lines and right angles of the typical wall space. Schoolbooks and classroom atlases also promoted the Mercator worldview. Although both stores offer a broad selection of atlases, hardbound and paperback, many of the books are reconfigured or abridged versions of an earlier, larger edition. Cartographic textbooks treat the Mollweide and sinusoidal projections as “pseudocylindrical” modifications of the plane chart's spartan rectangular framework. Map historians who gleefully celebrate these alleged cartographic contributions to the Cold War might usefully ask whether the map's role is a matter of intrinsic power or merely the convenient availability of diverse designs.

Keywords: Mercator world map; atlases; Cartographic textbooks; Map historians; cartographic contributions

Chapter.  6401 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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