Mapping the space of flows: considerations and consequences

Sutherland, Thomas (2018) Mapping the space of flows: considerations and consequences. In: Time for mapping: Cartographic temporalities. Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp. 175-196. ISBN 9781526122520

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Abstract

Centred upon the notion of the flow map, which was first developed in the mid-nineteenth century, but has found significant popularity amongst researchers in a variety of fields over the past couple of decades, this chapter attempts to denaturalize this concept of “flow” as it is utilized in geography, and in social theory more broadly, in order to illustrate the potential risks that arise when attempting to represent change or movement over time in a spatial form through the deployment of this metaphor. Emphasizing the inherently productive (and hence ideological) nature of mapping, which does not merely represent a pre-given external reality, but actually helps construct our empirical experience of the world, the chapter begins by tracing the history of the flow map, from its early origins in ancient Rome through to its contemporary popularity enabled by geographic information systems. Following this, it examines the usage of the metaphor of flow in the social sciences, concentrating particularly upon the work of Arjun Appadurai and Manuel Castells, before investigating in detail the way in which the conflation of the flow map with this latently metaphysical understanding of flow offers a problematic means for reducing time to space, and risks normalizing and even ontologizing certain elements of the socio-economic and technical environment that it is attempting to graphically represent.

Keywords:geography, mapping, flow
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
ID Code:32345
Deposited On:25 Oct 2018 10:10

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