The previous chapter of this book discussed how maps are a useful tool in historical research and studies, but rarely are used for those purposes. This chapter of the book dives in deeper to the different ways maps have been created and used throughout history. Through this part of the book, one can get an even deeper understanding on how maps can be used in historical studies, and the different ways one can use a particular map in their studies. The goal of the chapter is to “explore the discourse of maps in the context of political power,” but I believe that, by reading between the lines, one can understand new ways maps can be used for research purposes other than for narrow location-based topics (Harley, 53).
This chapter points out that “it is only through context that meaning and influence can be properly unraveled” when studying a map (Harley, 56). Context with maps can range from who made the maps, to who used the maps, and to what the maps were used for. As given in this chapter, an example of a context for a map could include political reasons, such as use by the military or the state. Military reasons for use of a map could include facilitating the “technical conduct of warfare” (Harley, 60). Knowing that would make it more understandable for certain places being left out on a military map, such as a classified base, in comparison to a map of a country leaving out unclassified information. In the case of the military map example, the erasing of the military base on the map is censorship is a reason for security, rather than propaganda.
Sarah E Jones