Decolonizing Cartography

Brendan Harmon

Mapping Territory


“…is part of a recursive social process in which maps shape a world that shapes maps.”

Matthew Sparke, In the Space of Theory: Postfoundational Geographies of the Nation-state, 2005

Cartographies of Control

Chinese Cartography

華夷圖 Hua Yi Tu

Map of China and the Barbarian Countries, 1137 CE

禹迹图 Yu Ji Tu

Map of the Tracks of Yu, 1137 CE

Roman Centuriation

Timgad, Algeria

Imagery: Google Earth & Maxar Technologies

US Public Land Survey System

Principal meridians and Baselines governing the United States Public Land Survey System

United States Bureau of Land Management, 1988

Map of the United States and Territories

United States General Land Office & Joseph Gorlinski, 1868

United States including territories and insular possessions

United States General Land Office, 1923

Colonial Maps


Wells Missionary Map Co., 1908


North America and the West Indies in 1763

Carington Bowles

British Empire Throughout the World Exhibited in One View

John A. Bartholomew, Fullarton & Co., 1850s

Changing Face of Europe and Colonial Tension, Late 1945

United States Central Intelligence Agency, 1978

Collapse of Colonial System, 1953-68

United States Central Intelligence Agency, 1978


U.S. Territory

Bill Rankin, 2007

Cold War, 1959

Number of nuclear warheads, 1945-2014

Our World in Data & FAS Nuclear Notebook

Alternative Cartographies

Map of the Crown Prince Islands, Disco Bay, Greenland

Silas Sandgreen, 1926

Embodied Cartography

A map of the East Greenland coastline, Sermiligaaq and Kangerlusuatsia, 1885

Digitized by Ersersaaneq & the Greenland National Museum and Archives

Media: wood

Inuit Nunangat

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, 2019

Micronesian Navigational Chart

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Rebbelib, Marshall Islands, 19th Century

British Museum

Buddhist Map of the World, 1710

Rokashi Hotan