Georeferencing the “World of Mercator Projection” Map

Georectifying the “World of Mercator Projection” map gave me some insights into the meaning of maps as visual arguments about the world. The purpose of georectifying a map is to create a more geographically accurate version of a map which previously existed as a less exact rendering. Even though the map I started out with looked pretty accurate and proportional, the process of georectifying it showed me that the map had inaccuracies. These inaccuracies reflect the biases and beliefs of the people who made the original map, and so the process of uncovering them helped me see that the original map promoted a biased argument about the state of the world. This doesn’t surprise me, since I’m familiar with inaccurate mapping histories (like how many maps have represented/continue to represent landmasses within the Northern Hemisphere as larger than those in the Southern Hemisphere… this reflects vestiges of a colonialist mindset).

Once you have made a georectified map, you can save it for use in ArcGIS or QGIS. After georectifying a map, you might want to include it in a project pertaining to the time period during which the original map was created, or you could compare the georectified map to its original in order to analyze the differing worldviews which each map presents.

I think one problem with georectifying maps is that “rectifying” a map by making it geographically accurate might create the impression that a map has been fully corrected and no longer contains any harmful biases which existed in the original. In reality, we should consider the step of correcting a map geographically as only one layer in the “map-correction” process: so many other (potentially biased) arguments could exist in a map beyond its geographical accuracy, like the way it is drawn/rendered, the colors it uses, the text it includes, etc. I do not think you should use georectification if you are trying to use a one-stop correction process for maps.


One Comment

  1. I think this question of map bias is really interesting. What factors might lead to there being faulty information in a map? Influences from those commissioning the map? Lack of knowledge of geography?

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