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Mapping an Empire:
The Geographical Construction of British India, 1765-1843

by Matthew H. Edney

ISBN 0226184889 / 9780226184883 / 0-226-18488-9
Publisher University Of Chicago Press
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

Mapping an Empire is a marvelous manifestation of the interconnectedness of things. On the one hand, it is a book about a specific historical episode in which an unknown area was mapped. Yet in the course of exploring this topic, Matthew Edney touches on a huge variety of historical, cultural, political, and scientific issues. As his opening sentence states, "Imperialism and mapmaking intersect in the most basic manner"; in order to "possess" or even comprehend a territory, one must map it. As he investigates the century-long British effort to "transform a land of incomprehensible spectacle into an empire of knowledge," Edney examines the philosophical and intellectual underpinnings of cartography, maps as power politics, technical aspects of surveying, the arcane operations and internal politics of the British East India Company, and much more. The book is illustrated with beautifully executed maps, charts, and tables, and is annotated with extensive source notes, a bibliography, and an excellent index. Laypeople may find parts of Mapping an Empire dense going, but their perseverance will be rewarded by an illuminating cross- disciplinary study; students of cartography will likely find this book invaluable. [via]