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By Jeremy Black

Do maps effectively and objectively current the data we think them to painting, or are they in its place coloured by means of the political reasons in their makers? during this vigorous and well-illustrated e-book, Jeremy Black investigates this risky territory, arguing persuasively that the meant "objectivity" of the map-making and map-using procedure can't be divorced from facets of the politics of representation.

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Sample text

Thus the Times Atlas o/the World (London, 1968) was assiduous in indicating marshland; indeed, the key included separate symbols for 'saline marsh', 'marsh, swamp', 'swamp, flood-area', and 'mangrove swamp'. As a consequence, areas such as the Guadalquivir Valley below Seville, the Costa Blanca south of Alicante or the Atlantic coast of Iberia between Faro and Huelva appear very different from their depiction in atlases of the period that ignore or minimize marshes. It is also difficult to assign meaning to 'physical geography' where there has been human interference, as in the damming of rivers, the conversion oflakes to reservoirs, reclamation from the sea, and the drainage of marshlands.

Mapping techniques, such as unit-dot maps or the employment of interdigitated diagonal bands of different colours, exist to display heterogeneity, and to create an impression of a nuanced reality, a spatiality of emphasis not consistency, but they are generally not used. One possibility is the use of highest ethnic concentrations by census tract, as in Vancouver: A Visual History (Vancouver, 1992). This mapped the single highest density of each ethnic group that made up more than 5 per cent of a census tract's population.

The practice of such marriages and unions helps to underline the very fluidity of the situation: unless entrenched through endogamy, demography undermines racial classification and thus racial mapping. As a consequence, whichever concepts are employed in the classification and mapping of race, there are major problems with the consistency of the data. Races are constructed as much as described, and mapping plays a role in such construction. Given that the definitions of race and ethnicity are fluid and contested, it is scarcely surprising that mapping them is problematic.

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