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The manly map: the English construction of gender in early modern cartography

December 4, 2005

Questions of gender in cartography most often focus on the sex of people involved in the cartographic process. These areas of research include the history of women cartographers (Tyner 1997: 46; Ritzlin 1989: 5; Hudson 1989: 29), the cartography of issues centered on women (Seager and Olson 1986; Seager et al. 1997; Rocheleau et al. 1995: 62), and women in the cartographic labor force (McHaffie 1996). Such studies examine the experiences of men and women in map-making, but not the map itself. When studies have addressed gender and contemporary map design qualities, the focus has been on cognitive aspects of and potential differences between the sexes in the cartographic process of making, analyzing, or reading maps (Golledge and Gilmartin 1986; Gilmartin and Patton 1984). Such studies tend to polarize the experience of gender in cartography as either male or female, when in fact people display properties of both genders. This paper examines facets of the historical basis of contemporary cartographic design principles, especially where these principles are gendered. By examining gender as social constructions of femininity and masculinity and how they have been incorporated into mapping, instead of as the interaction of individuals with maps (although sexual stereotypes act predominantly on individuals on the basis of their sex), we more closely approach the complex array of skills and relationships within which people live, while gaining insight into the stereotypical experiences of individuals. The premise is that early modern map design was not gender neutral in terms of broader social forces shaping gender identity. Historical evidence suggests that modern cartographic design principles originated along the lines of ideals of masculinity.

Publication Year 2005
Title The manly map: the English construction of gender in early modern cartography
Authors Dalia E. Varanka
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70201155
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Geospatial Program