Beyond The ‘Binaries’: A Methodological Intervention for Interrogating Maps as Representational Practices


  • Vincent J. Del Casino Jr. J. Del Casino Jr. Departments of Geography and Liberal Studies, California State University
  • Stephen P. Hanna Department of Geography, University of Mary Washington



cartographic historians, power, social contexts, map production, cartography, Western imperialism, enlightenment, map spaces, representational, non-representational, critical cartography, binaries


Over the past two decades, a growing number of geographers and cartographic historians have critically examined maps as products imbued with power, the social contexts of map production, and the intimate involvement of cartography in Western imperialism and the enlightenment project. More recently, a few scholars have applied critical approaches to studies of map use and interpretation. Much of this work reproduces, at least implicitly, a series of binaries that separate maps as representations of space from spatial practices. In this paper, we offer a methodological intervention by introducing a theorization of ‘map spaces’ as a way to move beyond the duality of representational and non-representational theory in critical cartography. Methodologically framing how we can interrogate the binaries of representation/practice, production/consumption, conceptualization/interpretation, and corporeality/sociality upon which so much analysis is based affords us the opportunity to challenge the presumptions of critical cartography as either the study of mapmaking or map use. We use a tourism map of Fredericksburg, Virginia to demonstrate how to ‘move beyond’ a critical cartography that is based, as some suggest, in an analysis of representation and not practice.


How to Cite

Del Casino Jr., V. J. D. C. J. J., & Hanna, S. P. (2015). Beyond The ‘Binaries’: A Methodological Intervention for Interrogating Maps as Representational Practices. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 4(1), 34–56.



Special Issue - Critical Cartographies