MERCATOR AND THE GEOGRAPHERS: searching for a “projection” of the world
The Dutch cartographer and mathematician Gerardus Mercator is renowned for his maps, atlas editions and his famous map projection of 1569 that, originally as a maritime navigation aid, turned into a model for many world maps. Radical geographers condemned the Mercator projection due to its area deformations and distortions that, at the same time, created an ideologized image of the world in favour of the dominant economies. Mercator, however, must be understood within the context of the Renaissance society in the Netherlands and its social, religious, political, and economic impacts and influences. This way, it can be made clear that the Mercator projection, like any other projection, is only one “vision” of the world among many others. In a concrete and metaphorical way, geographers as “mappers” of the world can learn their lesson from Mercator to remain alert not only towards other people’s projections, but also towards their own.
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