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Rhumb Lines and Map Wars – A Social History of the Mercator Projection - Chicago Scholarship Online
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Rhumb Lines and Map Wars: A Social History of the Mercator Projection

Mark Monmonier


This book offers an account of the controversies surrounding Flemish cartographer Gerard Mercator's legacy, first taking us back to 1569, when Mercator announced a clever method of portraying the earth on a flat surface, creating the first projection to take into account the earth's roundness. Mariners benefited most from his projection, which allowed for easy navigation of the high seas with rhumb lines—clear-cut routes with a constant compass bearing—for true direction. But the projection's popularity among nineteenth-century sailors led to its overuse—often in inappropriate, non-navigationa ... More

Keywords: Gerard Mercator, rhumb lines, Mercator's projection, Arno Peters, Peters projection, Third World nations, colonialism, postmodernism

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2004 Print ISBN-13: 9780226534312
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226534329.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Mark Monmonier, author