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Title: An analysis of the cartographic language of European state topographic maps : aesthetics, style, and identity
Author: Kent, Alexander James
Awarding Body: University of Kent/Canterbury Christ Church University
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis investigates stylistic diversity in European 1:50 000 state topographic maps and explores the extent to which national conditions, such as socio-economic, cultural, and demographic characteristics, are intrinsically expressed in their symbolization of the national landscape. The separation of the topographic map from its assumed objectivity and the poststructuralist handling of maps as ‘texts’ provide the point of departure for the theoretical framework, which includes a discussion of the role of aesthetic judgment and the nature of style in cartography, and subsequently develops a new language paradigm for understanding national differences in cartographic expression. The methodology involves the construction of a typology for the classification of the legend symbologies of 1:50 000 paper topographic maps from 20 different European national mapping organizations. In addition to providing a quantitative assessment of the symbols devoted to each type of feature, this incorporates a qualitative classification of their appearance according to the criteria of colour, visual hierarchy, ‘white’ space, and lettering in the search for supranational styles. Although it was possible to group countries using a cluster analysis based on the proportion of symbols within each class, the findings reveal much stylistic diversity in European 1:50 000 state topographical mapping, which is demonstrated further in the graphical appearance of each symbology. Tests of association between the symbol classification data and various national statistics suggest a very general reflection of national conditions and do not support some more plausible links, but nevertheless imply the influence of specifically national circumstances. In order to understand the possible influences of wider geopolitical factors on the design and production of state topographic maps, recent initiatives in Latvia and Slovenia were examined and interviews were conducted with those involved. The findings suggest that even with fundamental changes such as the achievement of political independence, the legacy of former styles of topographic cartography persist, especially concerning how the landscape is classified. The development of national styles in state topographic maps appears to be a process in which only broader, more permanent supranational characteristics, such as functional dependencies within core-periphery systems, may be reflected more accurately.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: G Geography (General) ; GA Mathematical geography. Cartography ; GN Anthropology ; GT Manners and customs