William Rankin

After the Map

Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century

University of Chicago Press 2016

New Books in GeographyNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books in Science, Technology, and SocietyNew Books in TechnologyNew Books Network May 17, 2017 Dexter Fergie

Policymakers and the public clamored for maps throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Indeed, maps were a necessity for war, navigation, and...

Policymakers and the public clamored for maps throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Indeed, maps were a necessity for war, navigation, and countless other activities. Yet by the 1960s and 1970s, interest in maps waned while electronic coordinate systems emerged. But this was not solely a shift in technology, as William Rankin writes in After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2016). The shift from maps to coordinate systems, and then eventually to GPS produced novel geographical subjectivities, navigational experiences and geopolitical arrangements. It was a shift in the meaning of territory itself.

By day, William Rankin is an assistant professor of history at Yale; by night, he is an award-winning cartographer, whose work you can find here. Rankin has also set up a website to accompany the book, at which readers can see the books images, data, and bibliography.


Dexter Fergie will be pursuing his PhD in US and Global history at Northwestern University in September 2017.

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