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The Effects of Representations of Spaces, Psych and Bio

The Effects of Representations of Spaces

How do representations of space affect our relationship to a place? To answer this question, we should perhaps ask ourselves an equally important question: how can we probe nature to learn about it without changing it. By analyzing this question using six main representational themes – cartographic, political, Cartesian perspectivalism, optical, transcendental, and biological – we will answer the original question. I believe that there are no representations of space that would not in some way affect our relationship to a place. Likewise, there are no representations of space that do not alter perspectives of everything and everyone around us. Human psychology and its biological representation of space force us to interact with nature and influence our relationship to places.

Before we begin, we must be clear on the definition of our terms. A space in this context is any real or imaginary area with real or artificial boundaries. The space represents a place, which is a tangible entity in reality. There are several ways in which spaces can represent places. We will analyze the representations with regards to cartographic, Cartesian perspectivalism, political, transcendental, and biological points of view.

Cartography, the study of maps and surveying, is an ancient science and is mostly a thing of the past. At one time cartographers possessed much power and were held in high esteem. Kings and lords would patronize cartographers to draw out maps of their lands. Due to benefaction, cartographers would often embellish the area of the land on the map to favor the patron. These incidences led to a variety of political silencing, omitting, and highlighting in maps. Eventually because of human nature, what started out as a scientific study became a corrupt and political practice as the people in charge of making and distributing maps hold all the power. J.B. Harley takes note of this phenomenon in his “Maps, knowledge, and power”:

The map served as a graphic inventory, a codification of information about ownership, tenancy, rentable values, cropping practice, and agricultural potential, enabling capitalist landowners to see their estates as a whole and better to control them. (285)

As a written document, maps contain a certain authenticity and demand reverence; those who hold the maps also hold the power because land that is claimed on paper is considered legitimate....

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