Individuals have been designing maps since prehistoric times. Every map is unique based on the cartographer and their beliefs. A map can alter an individual's belief about the world by the technique the cartographer used to make it whether it was based on a certain religion or the way they pictured the world based on where on the world they lived in.
Before present times, maps would usually differ based on the map maker designing the map. For instance, in prehistoric times, certain Europeans believed the relative locations of certain places in the world contemplated "God's supreme plan." This example portrays how their beliefs reflect the way they view the map which affects their view of the world.
Mapmakers still bias modern-day maps. Some examples include where the mapmaker is located in the world because it can affect the cardinal direction of countries around it, how large they believe certain countries are based on where they live, and cultural bias.
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- The relative location of places shown on ancient European maps reveals various cultural biases of their cartographers because the mapmakers designed the maps based on their own religious and cultural beliefs. In the making of the maps, the cultures of the mapmakers varied, therefore the maps did as well and the maps supported the beliefs of the cartographer. As stated in the Mapmaking and Relative Location article, "Unfortunately, during medieval times Europeans lost interest in Ptolemy's work because it did not agree with their notion of the earth. They believed the relative positions of the lands of the world reflected God's supreme plan…" (Mapmaking and Relative location, 8) This quotation portrays that Ptolemy, a geographer, possessed his own point of view of the world which altered his outlook, however, certain Europeans disagreed with him based on their cultural beliefs and perspectives.
- The biases of the Renaissance cartographers led to the discovery of The Americas because they designed maps based on their perspective of the world and they believed that Asia was larger than it essentially is, which convinced Columbus that if he traveled a certain direction he'd reach Asia, if he followed this map. However, on his expedition, he discovered The Americas instead. As depicted in the article, "…European mapmakers adopted his false belief that Asia stretched farther east than it does…The new, inaccurate maps persuaded Columbus he could reach Asia by sailing west for only a few weeks. Without a false idea of the nearness of Asia, he might never have set sail on his 'enterprise of the Indies.'" (Mapmaking and Relative location, 8) This piece of evidence portrays that the bias of Renaissance mapmakers had misguided beliefs and designed inaccurate maps which affected the perspectives of others such as Christopher Columbus, who set on an expedition to reach Asia, but discovered The Americas instead.
- The Mercator projection is a very frequently used world map which was designed to help sailors map out their expeditions. The Mercator projection reinforces the cultural biases of people in North America and Europe. It does this by misleading people so that Europe and North America they look more massive and more valuable on the map than other states and countries. As portrayed in the Mapmaking and Relative location article, "It has the unwanted effect, however of distorting Europe and North American nations so that they look larger—and thus more important—than lands at the equator." (Mapmaking and Relative location, 9) This piece of evidence depicts that the Mercator projection reinforces the cultural biases of the people living in these nations because they believe they are more significant because their continents appear vaster on the map compared to other countries, however, cartographers of other cultures or countries, believe otherwise.
- Lands surrounding the Pacific Ocean are supposed to grow in economic power during the following century. World maps might typically differ to reflect this shift in power by intentionally designing the places in the world that are growing economically to seem bigger on the map. In this case, the countries of the Pacific Rim would be portrayed larger than they essentially are. Additionally, they might change to be up to date. As portrayed in the text, "And as world power centers continue to shift in the coming years, our outdated pictures of the world may prevent us from keeping up." (Mapmaking and Relative location, 9) This quotation supports the statement that the world maps would change to stay up to date for people that view maps and that because the world power continues to drift, certain places in the world gain additional importance since they grow economically, which causes them to look larger and more successful on the map.
In summation, mapmaking and relative location reflect on the cartographer's beliefs and improves over time. The relative location of places shown on ancient European maps reveals various cultural biases of their geographers because various mapmakers designed the maps based on their own beliefs. Additionally, the biases of the Renaissance cartographers led to the discovery of The Americas because they created maps based on their perspective of the world and they believed that Asia was larger than it actually is, which led to Columbus discovering The Americas by following this false map.
Moreover, the Mercator projection reinforces the cultural biases of people in North America and Europe by misleading people so that Europe and North America they look more massive and more valuable on the map than other states and countries. World maps might typically differ to reflect this shift in power by intentionally designing the places in the world that are growing economically to seem bigger and more important on the map.
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