Mapping Europe's BorderlandsRussian Cartography in the Age of Empire

Mapping Europe's BorderlandsRussian Cartography in the Age of Empire

Steven Seegel

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226744254

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


The simplest purpose of a map is a rational one: to educate, to solve a problem, to point someone in the right direction. Maps shape and communicate information, for the sake of improved orientation, but they exist for states as well as individuals, and need to be interpreted as expressions of power and knowledge. This book takes the familiar problems of state and nation building in eastern Europe and presents them through the prism of cartography and cartographers. Drawing from sources in eleven languages, including military, historical-pedagogical, and ethnographic maps, as well as geographic texts and related cartographic literature, the author explores the role of maps and mapmakers in the East Central European borderlands from the Enlightenment to the Treaty of Versailles. For example, he explains how Russia used cartography in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars and, later, formed its geography society as a cover for gathering intelligence. The author also explains the importance of maps to the formation of identities and institutions in Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania, as well as in Russia. The book concludes with a consideration of the impact of cartographers' regional and socioeconomic backgrounds, educations, families, career options, and available language choices.