Map supremacy

We also visited the former prison in Ushuaïa, which is now a museum for a bunch of different things. Among those things are models of explorers’ ships and different maps (from different ages) that show South America and in particular Patagonia.

I was reminded of the West Wing episode in which a visitor points out how maps in Mercator projection (mis-)represent how the world looks:

In particular Africa is visually shrunk, hiding the fact that it is “larger than the USA, China, India, Japan, and all of Europe… combined!”

My wife read in the explanation of one of those maps that in Mercator-projected maps France is always in the center, which is something that we as Europeans don’t notice unless it’s pointed out to us. Being from Paris, she mentioned how Parisians tend to think of Paris as the center and most important region of France (which has to do with the relatively early and strong centralization), and how this in combination with France’s centrality on those maps shapes French perception of the world.

Interestingly, my experience has been a rather different one in this regard. I was born in the GDR, aka “Eastern Germany”, which was one of the satellite states of the Soviet Union. The GDR was small, and a border country of the buffer created by the Warsaw Pact states, not central at all. The center of power itself resided far to the east. As an after effect of this, I still sometimes have trouble realizing the power that Germany can wield in Europe, given the size of its population and its economic influence.

This entry was posted in belief systems, geostrategy, Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s