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Decolonizing the MapCartography from Colony to Nation$
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James R. Akerman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226422787

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226422817.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 21 May 2022

Signs of the Times

Signs of the Times

Commercial Road Mapping and National Identity Insouth Africa

(p.339) Chapter Eight Signs of the Times
Decolonizing the Map

Thomas J. Bassett

University of Chicago Press

This paper argues that commercial road maps of South Africa do more than assist the traveler to get from one town or neighborhood to the next. They work, through their discourse function and sign system, to create the spaces of apartheid and postapartheid society. In this way, maps produce social systems, territory, identities, and authority by normalizing power relations through their propositional character and everyday use. They perform these functions in the case of South Africa in three ways: by delimiting racialized spaces; by classifying settlements on the basis of infrastructure and services rather than by population; and by demarcating a post-apartheid political geography and ideology. The paper makes these arguments based on interviews with South African map publishers and with reference to maps made in South Africa during the apartheid and postapartheid periods. Apartheid-era road maps can be read as ideological expressions and material artifacts of internal colonialism. Despite significant continuities, postapartheid road mapping is creating a different and more inclusive territory in which identity, memory and culture intersect in a more inclusive way.

Keywords:   cartography, South Africa, road maps, apartheid, postapartheid, internal colonialism, countermapping, Map Studio, Automobile Association of South Africa

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