Over millennia, humans have expressed their innate navigational tendencies in an ever-evolving art and science of mapmaking. As the horizon drew early explorers, documentarians and cartographers to survey the shape of the earth, today’s boundaries continue to draw us further, whether to the edges of the universe (see GLIMPSE issue 5, Cosmos), or the cells of the human body.
GLIMPSE issue 8, Cartography, presents perspectives on the history and human experience of mapping. The topic of cartography is far too expansive to adequately represent in the pages of just one journal issue, so we defer the burgeoning field of Geographic Information Systems to a future GLIMPSE issue. We instead start with an illuminating timeline of selected dates in European, Islamic and Chinese cartography. Arto Vaun records the nexus of self, family, and society in his poem of an intergenerational, migratory atlas. Maps can indeed illuminate human experience and narratives. Imbued with authority, they can assert power, possibly even aid in the enforcement of it. They can also mislead, as Mark Monmonier demonstrates in his article, “Borrowed Borders.”
Cartographer Elbie Bentley re-conceptualizes the map as novel, depicting the journey of the 19th-century Western US survey expedition of Captain Gunnison. We go on to consider the nano-cartography of the heart, by Katherine Fletcher, Peter Kohl and Denis Noble. Georgia Barnhill reveals the navigational pitfalls of another heart—“the open country of the woman’s heart” as illustrated more than 100 years ago. Giuseppe Iaria, in turn, explains to GLIMPSE’s Rachel Sapin how we physically orient ourselves in the world with our own mental maps. They discuss what is left to learn about our internal “geographic information systems.” Lisa Gabbert guides us through the tensions between local and externallyimposed names for the places we know best, as experienced by the residents of McCall, Idaho. Finally, Yi-Fu Tuan shows us areas of overlap and divergence between cartography and humanism.
As always, we welcome your input and comments on this issue, and hope you enjoy your journey reading Cartography!
– Megan Hurst, Editor