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Map Worlds

A History of Women in Cartography

Will C.van den Hoonaard

Publication Year: 2013

Map Worlds plots a journey of discovery through the world of women map-makers from the golden age of cartography in the sixteenth-century Low Countries to tactile maps in contemporary Brazil. Author Will C. van den Hoonaard examines the history of women in the profession, sets out the situation of women in technical fields and cartography-related organizations, and outlines the challenges they face in their careers.

The book explores women as colourists in early times, describes the major houses of cartographic production, and delves into the economic function of intermarriages among cartographic houses and families. It relates how in later centuries, working from the margins, women produced maps to record painful tribal memories or sought to remedy social injustices. In more contemporary times, one woman so changed the way we think about continents that the shift has been likened to the Copernican revolution. Other women created order and wonder about the lunar landscape, and still others turned the art and science of making maps inside out, exposing the hidden, unconscious, and subliminal “text” of maps. Shared by all these map-makers are themes of social justice and making maps work for the betterment of humanity.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures, Tables, and Charts

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Map Worlds plots a journey of discovery through the world of women mapmakers. The journey starts in the “golden age of cartography” in the sixteenth-century Low Lands and ends with tactile maps in contemporary Brazil. As developers of resources that allowed early map ateliers to flourish through marital liaisons, women had an unmistakable role. ...

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pp. xiii-xvi

A major portion of the research would have remained a pie in the sky if it were not for the nearly seventy interview participants who offered me a portion of their very busy schedules. I cannot mention most of their names in light of the anonymity they were entitled to in this research, but they may recognize their story. ...

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1. Introduction: The Strands through Map Worlds

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pp. 1-14

Behind some eight thousand contemporary women from around the world stand not only more than five hundred years of history, but also one of the most popular cultural productions in the world: maps. The world of mapmakers is somewhat known to us, but we have only a microscopic knowledge about the involvement of women in map-making. ...

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2. Who Is a Cartographer?

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pp. 15-28

With such a vast array of fields enshrined in cartography (science, geography, geodesy, computer science, geomatics, map libraries, and map archives, to name a few), one is justified in asking who is a cartographer.1 The question requires a complex answer. Many types of occupational incumbents inhabit(ed) the map world, ...

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3. The Thirteenth to Seventeenth Centuries

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pp. 29-44

The period between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries in the Western world coincided with huge transformations that deeply affected map worlds: the rise of the Church to a height of tremendous secular power and authority, the appearance of the Renaissance, the advancement of technology, world-encircling discoveries that brought cartography into its wake, ...

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4. The Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries (1666 to 1850)

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pp. 45-74

By the seventeenth century, cartography had moved out of the ateliers. Increasingly, the State began to occupy a larger share of the map world. While it is true that the founding in 1666 of the Académie royale des sciences during the reign of Louis XIV was a forerunner of the zeitgeist of rational and scientific thought, ...

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5. Cartography from the Margins: From the Early Twentieth Century to World War II

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pp. 75-92

Aside from its exciting technological innovations, the nineteenth-century map world saw the early glimmerings of a new kind of cartography stimulated from the margins: namely, the rise of thematic, environmental, and Aboriginal maps in North America. ...

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6. Mid-to Late-Twentieth-Century Pioneers and Advancers in North America

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pp. 93-138

In comparison to other continents, North America has been a particularly fertile field for women in cartography. Marie Tharp constitutes the most significant offshoot of the infusion of women into fields traditionally held by men. Tharp was an oceanographic cartographer whose maps of the world’s ocean floors became iconic of the twentieth century ...

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7. Late-Twentieth-Century Pioneers and Advancers in Europe, Asia, and Latin America

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pp. 139-168

In North America and elsewhere, many different participants inhabited this map world. It would be impossible to find a more diverse group of cartographers than those represented by the ten women in this chapter. Helen Wallis of the British Library became the leading map librarian in the world, ...

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8. “Getting There without Aiming at It”: Women’s Experiences in Becoming Cartographers

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pp. 169-184

We have now come to the point of exploring the gendered map world of contemporary cartography, offering us a chance to dialogue with some thirty-eight women cartographers about their experiences. This chapter and the following one draw heavily on the interviews I conducted with these cartographers. ...

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9. “We Are Good Ghosts!”: Orientations and Expectations of Women Cartographers

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pp. 185-205

By the time a woman enters cartography as a fully working professional, the data indicate that she stands out in many significant ways from her male colleagues (van den Hoonaard, 2000c): she brings with her an education or training in a wide variety of areas, and her career takes on the form of an occupational zigzag.1 ...

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10. Educational Opportunities and Obstacles

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pp. 205-216

Regardless of the personal and career contingencies of the individual woman cartographer, she will come face to face with the educational agencies that formally launch her career in the map world. As far as the men are concerned, their acknowledgment of “gender” varies no less considerably, but is muted by the privileges they take for granted, ...

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11. The Gendered Social Organization

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pp. 217-240

So far, our discussion of contemporary women cartographers has brought to light not only their individual lives through vignettes, but also many of their common perspectives and experiences. We now turn our gaze to the social organizational aspects of the map world. ...

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12. Female Pathways through the Present-Day Map World

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pp. 241-268

Across the span of map worlds there are vast differences in the way that gender is a factor in the recruitment, maintaining, and promotion of women in cartographic organizations. In many respects, the map world reflects many germane issues when it comes to how women approach and solve their individual situations. ...

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13. Gender Shifts

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pp. 269-284

Our story of women in historical and contemporary cartography does not easily lend itself to creating a grand narrative, whether feminist or otherwise. Aside from the inconsistent and incomplete historical record of women’s participation in cartography, cartography spans too many cultures and too many varied periods to warrant an easy explanation. ...


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pp. 285-304


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pp. 305-322


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pp. 323-352

Copyright Acknowledgements

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pp. 353-356


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pp. 357-377

E-ISBN-13: 9781554589333
E-ISBN-10: 1554589339
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554589326

Page Count: 415
Illustrations: 58 b/w
Publication Year: 2013