1st Edition

Mapping and Politics in the Digital Age

Edited By Pol Bargués-Pedreny, David Chandler, Elena Simon Copyright 2019
    246 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    246 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Throughout history, maps have been a powerful tool in the constitutive imaginary of governments seeking to define or contest the limits of their political reach. Today, new digital technologies have become central to mapping as a way of formulating alternative political visions.  Mapping can also help marginalised communities to construct speculative designs using participatory practices. Mapping and Politics in the Digital Age explores how the development of new digital technologies and mapping practices are transforming global politics, power, and cooperation.

    The book brings together authors from across political and social theory, geography, media studies and anthropology to explore mapping and politics across three sections. Contestations introduces the reader to contemporary developments within mapping and explores the politics of mapping as a form of knowledge and contestation. Governance analyses mapping as a set of institutional practices, providing key methodological frames for understanding global governance in the realms of urban politics, refugee control, health crises and humanitarian interventions and new techniques of biometric regulation and autonomic computation. Imaginaries provides examples of future-oriented analytical frameworks, highlighting the transformation of mapping in an age of digital technologies of control and regulation. In a world conceived as without borders and fixed relations, new forms of mapping stress the need to rethink assumptions of power and knowledge.

    This book provides a sophisticated and nuanced analysis of the role ofmapping in contemporary global governance, and will be of interest to students and researchers working within politics, geography, sociology, media, and digital culture and technology.

    List of Figures

    List of Contributors



    Pol Bargués-Pedreny, David Chandler and Elena Simon


    1. On the epistemology of maps and mapping: De la Cosa, Mercator and the making of spatial imaginaries

    Luis Lobo-Guerrero

    2. From Cartographic Gaze to contestatory cartographies

    Doug Specht and Anna Feigenbaum

    3. Horizontalism is a map

    Nicholas Michelsen

    4. (Analog) mapping the knowable and ways of knowing: Relational ontologies of chickens and ancestors in rural Sierra Leone

    Caitlin Ryan


    5. Mapping epidemics: securitisation, risk and geopolitics

    Adam Ferhani and Gregory Stiles

    6. About ‘terms and conditions’: The Aadhar biometric identification programme as a mapping analytic

    Harshavardhan Bhat

    7. Mapping as governance in an age of autonomic computing: technology, virtuality and utopia

    Antoinette Rouvroy

    8. Mapping without the world and the poverty of digital humanitarians

    Pol Bargués-Pedreny


    9. Post(mortem) cartographies: Reframing the cartographic exhaustion in the age of mapping’s excess

    Laura Lo Presti

    10. Mapping beyond the human: correlation and the governance of effects

    David Chandler

    11. Map-i: Mercator revisited: from mapping modernity to postmodern creative cartographies

    Inge Panneels

    12. Mapping’s intelligent agents

    Shannon Mattern



    Pol Bargués-Pedreny is Research Fellow at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, Spain

    David Chandler is Professor of International Relations at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster, UK

    Elena Simon is PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield, UK, and research assistant at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research in Duisburg, Germany

    "Mapping and Politics in the Digital Age interrogates how mapping – seemingly simple yet profoundly complex - drives the way we understand and make our world. Historical exemplars lay bare how mapping actively builds and contests conceptions of the world. Mapping permeates and evolves with institutional practices and governance and, as this book shows, mapping is appropriated and deployed to bring about new forms of politics, countering and empowering and visualizing a more just world." — John Krygier, Ohio Wesleyan University, USA

    "Produced by an outstanding and eclectic group of established and emergent scholars and practitioners, this compelling volume is a must-read for those committed to understanding how mapping and governing are institutionalized, interrelated, and contested, and how, as a radical and open practice, mapping might provide opportunities to imagine critically and creatively different futures." — Elaine Stratford, Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of Tasmania, Australia

    "Mapping is not what it used to be! This collection of essays by scholars from across the social sciences and humanities shows why politics in the twenty-first century has been transformed by digital technologies, which reconfigure the knowledge practices through which the world is made knowable as a scene for intervention - by those seeking to impose order on an uncertain future as well as by those seeking to imagine alternative futures."Clive Barnett, Professor of Geography and Social Theory, University of Exeter, UK

    "Contestation, governance and imaginaries are the stuff of politics. They are also the themes around which this volume presents its thought provoking arguments regarding a range of specific, situated, ongoing and embodied mapping practices. The result is a refreshingly political probing of the significance of the digital."— Anna Leander, Graduate Institute Geneva, Switzerland

    "A book with an impressive array of new ideas from an interesting collection of contributors. The editors are to be commended on their creativity in assembling such a valuable multidisciplinary examination of cartographic power in the new digital world. I find it highly encouraging that the collection draws lessons and perspectives from historic cartography to look forward and better describe the impacts of mapping practices that are coming into being now and in the near future."Martin Dodge, Department of Geography, University of Manchester, UK

    "Mapping and Politics in the Digital Age shows us that maps reveal as much about human self-understanding as they do about the world. As mapping is transformed by digital technology we will find new possibility and new peril; this book is vital for understanding the political world we inhabit today." — Joe Hoover, Queen Mary University of London, UK