How Maps Change Things

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A conversation about the maps we choose and the world we want

Ward L. Kaiser

224 PP | 8.5" x 11"
Paper
ISBN: 978-1-77064-566-0

 

Arno Peters DVD

Seeing Through Maps

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Arno Peters DVD

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This full-colour book is about politics and faith and the values we hold. It’s about human relations, social justice, peace, budgets, and environmental concerns. It’s about that “Aha!” moment when we realize that maps are loaded not just with data, but with meaning, with the map maker’s perceptions and prejudices about what’s important and what’s not. Ultimately, this book is about becoming aware of how we shape and use maps and how they in turn shape us, so that we can begin to reflect on and choose the kind of world we want. The book includes an experiential Study Guide perfect for use by adult and youth study groups of all kinds.

Author Ward Kaiser brings to this book broad experience as a publisher, business and ecumenical executive, pastor, teacher, and community organizer. He introduced the Peters Projection world map to North America, publishing its first English-language version in 1983. His handbook to that map, A New View of the World, is widely used by high school and college teachers, mission educators, and social activists. He and his wife, Lorraine, divide their time between central Florida and the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario, Canada.

Ward L. Kaiser, Author

Can we heal an ailing world, and if so, how? Ward Kaiser has developed his own working answers through years of experience: working with refugees, mentoring juvenile delinquents, speaking to people in power, pastoring churches, heading a publishing company, leading seminars on social issues, writing eight books and a syndicated column. In How Maps Change Things he provides a stimulating analysis of how maps function to change our world and us.

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Media Reviews

Dr. Edmund Pries, Dept of Global Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

Ward Kaiser’s work is easily accessible to both the general reader and the specialized geographer and provides a detailed introduction to global mapping and the impact maps have on the human global perspective. The book is filled with fascinating historical examples and entertaining stories of relationships between countries and people around the world and describes how they have been impacted by views of the world as provided by maps. Especially worthwhile are the many beautiful reprints of the different global maps available. This book provides an excellent introduction for High School and University Students as they examine the impact of maps on their view of the world.

Antonio Lopez, The Media Ecosystem, www.worldbridgermedia.com

Those who practice media literacy know that media are not just maps of the world, but prescribe how to act in the world. How wonderful, then, that Ward L. Kaiser's How Maps Change Things, shows these principles in action. With ample case studies and sober explanation, this book will not only change how you view maps, but how you see the world.

Brian Arthur Brown, author, Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel and Quran

Read your book and love it! Everyone should read it.The style is accessible; even populist! … readers will get hooked. Congratulations on a fine piece of work!

Dianne Hofner Saphiere, intercultural organizational effectiveness consultant and and host of the Cultural Detective Blog

For a new class or training program to improve intercultural competence How Maps Change Things could be the basis of one terrific learning journey! I highlighted something on nearly every one of its 188 pages. I learned so much, on so many different yet related topics, that I now have five or six threads of learning and discovery I want to pursue! Kaiser shows us how maps can be used to promote perspective shifting, equity, and social justice.

Read the full review here.

Ed Peck, former US Ambassador to Iraq

This book, as fascinating as it is informative and important, is for beginners as well as those who already have an interest in and understanding of the advantages and limitations of maps. Here is an excellent opportunity to gain genuine insight into the processes and the results of mapping.

Eric Schneider, Youth Leader Magazine, UNESCO status, Germany, www.youth-leader

ABSOLUTELY outstanding! It is SO easy to understand, precise, straight, fascinating. Further, such an awesome easy to use, lively resource for use in education - with the questions at the end of the chapters! What an amazing dazzling kaleidoscope of map knowledge… ripe and fascinating for ALL audiences across languages, cultures, ages, professions because it includes powerful content and easy to read, illustrated, kicking examples. The personal tone is engaging, while while being in balance on different cultural approaches... and it is sooo elegantly tuned. I am going to add this to our teaching tool resources.

Craig Wiesner, Progressive activist and co-founder of ReachAndTeach.com

How Maps Change Things is a critical resource for people to understand the power of maps to influence how we look at each other across the table and across the globe. For those of us trying to make the world a better place, this book is a critical tool for understanding how we all look at it now and how we all want it to look in the future.

Tom Wilson, Geography Teacher at Waldorf High Schools in Viroqua, WI and Prien, Germany.

I especially liked your discussion of the Mercator Projection. All too often proponents of the Peter's projection present the Mercator concept as nothing more than a Northern Capitalist plot to promote their own agenda....whereas as you point out, it serves a very useful purpose (in fact vital for early mariners). The distortions are unfortunate and most of us have been misinformed by the spacial distortions, but if I were out at sea trying to find my way home, I certainly wouldn't want a Peters projection. 

Dr. David G. Hallman, Coordinator (retired), Climate Change Programme, World Council of Churches

How Maps Change Things is a creative and engaging tool for people of all ages and backgrounds to understand how we see the world and therefore how we relate to each other and to the earth, our home. Such an understanding is absolutely necessary if the global community is to chart a course toward an equitable and sustainable future. I recommend it.

Dr. Danny Dorling, Professor of Human Geography, University of Sheffield; author of The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality

A tour de force, from the mapping of Iraq as a set of oil wells, through Mercator’s love of Germany, first nation Canadians’ and current Palestinians’ land rights, to calls for an end to borders, bigotry, disease and war. This is not just a book about maps, although it’s full of maps – it’s about a worldview.

James Laxer, Dept. of Equity Studies, York University; author of Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812

Informative and readable. I’ve always been interested in maps, and this book took me much further and developed the connections between maps, the natural world, political power, cultural and religious norms, the past and the future. It’s an excellent read.

Dr. Joseph J. Kerski, Education Manager, Esri, Broomfield, CO; and current president of the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE).

Very thought provoking, easily-understood by non-geographers, and timely. Bravo!!

Lois Sibley, Blogger

Let’s begin the New Year with a fascinating book about maps called How Maps Change Things. A subtitle informs us that it is a “conversation about the maps we choose and the world we want.” Written by Ward L. Kaiser and published by Wood Lake Publishing Inc. under its imprint as Copper House, it is available at www.woodlakebooks.com in Canada, or through WestminsterJohnKnox at www.wjkbooks.com, where I saw it in their catalog.

Author Kaiser asks “What’s a Map For? Keep an open mind. And keep asking. Maps send messages...” says Kaiser, and have always been, more or less, “propaganda.” An example of a map sending messages is the Mercator, which was first produced in 1569, a map for navigation. When used for navigation, the Mercator is a dependable and useful map. For other purposes, Kaiser and other map people claim it is not accurate. The Mercator “enlarges some parts of the world and diminishes others. (Greenland is the same size as Africa!) Where size is concerned, better not depend on the Mercator.”

This book is full of copies of maps of the world done from different perspectives, and it’s easy to see what Kaiser is saying about the Mercator. Even so, many teachers, schools, mapmakers are still using it. On the other hand, after years of growing discontent with the inaccuracies of the Mercator, in Germany in 1974, the Arno Peters map was first published, claiming to be an “equal area map...for the equal value of all peoples.” It was soon in English and is now “widely available in French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and Danish.”

This new map produced by Peters has encountered “heated opposition as well as enthusiastic welcome.” The earlier Mercator map, “widely used, was often uncritically assumed to be ‘the truth.’” Peters claimed there was no fairness in it and there was great need for an equal area map. Kaiser has included quotes from many geographers and professional cartographers, who give cogent reasons for accepting and promoting the Peters map over the Mercator.

Included is a study guide for four sessions, providing material for discussion on:1) introduction to the conventions of map making; 2) how maps affect the user’s point of view; 3) what some demographics maps don’t show, such as poverty, energy use, water consumption, life expectancy, religion; and 4) new ideas, encouraging participants to dream about how they could get involved in creating a better world.

This is not a religious book, which is what I usually review on this blog. But....this book is about so much more than just maps. It is about politics, and faith and the values we hold dear. It is about human relations, about justice and peace and budgets and environmental concerns. I think we cannot look at this map book without looking carefully, each with our own worldview, or as the Germans say: Weltanschauung. Our value system will go with us, no matter what we are thinking, discussing, sharing, reading, reviewing. God bless you as you read through 2014.

The Paramus Post

Mel Fabrikant

This is an eye-opening book! Ward L. Kaiser, a former resident of Paramus, NJ, an author, a publisher, a business and ecumenical executive, a teacher and community organizer, lends deep thought to the role that maps play in our life. Let me amend that to say how the proper maps play an important part in our lives.  Because, Yes Virginia, there is a proper map to fit many different circumstances. To prove this, Ward has designed for www.Paramuspost.com , a map in which Paramus is the center of the universe! While  Paramus Mayor Rich LaBarbiera believes this, and we won't tell him differently, it proves that maps can be designed to tell a specific outlook!

The nice part of How Maps Change Things is that, while deep and intense, it is written in language that even beginners can understand and be fascinated. His examples,  both written and visual, help one to understand the vagaries that certain maps can impart and how specifically designed maps can tell an accurate story.

He also brought to the world's attention, the difference between a map that is flat compared to a globe that shows the earth in its true shape. There will be distortions built in to a flat map as the orb is spread out on a sheet of paper. He therefore delineates between 'Look-Alikes',  fuzzy maps and his preference of the Peters map. He shows how one looking at a road map might miss the topography shown in a map designed for pilots. One searching for specific natural resources would also miss the details in a map that only shows the location of cities and towns. Once again, the proper map is important!

Kaiser intertwines some of his experiences into the issue of maps. He does not stick to longitude and latitude, but freely expresses views of other events that have bearing on How Maps Change Things. The book is divided by the main story, adequate footnotes and a study panel for those interested in delving deeper. It is designed to make the reader think; it opens new horizons.

Choice Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

E. A. Scarletto, Kent State University

This volume is clearly written to convey the author's view of the world. Published in print by Canadian-based Wood Lake Publishing, under the CopperHouse imprint, it was first published as an e-book by New Internationalist in 2012. The book's fold-out maps are published by ODT Maps, the US distributor. This book has the respectable task of asking readers to consider how maps shape one's view of the world. However, rather than serving as an academic textbook, it is, as the publisher's website indicates, “about politics and faith and the values we hold.” Although presented as an introduction to and history of reading and displaying maps, the book for the most part advocates for maps that provide “fair” representations of the world. Its argument would be stronger if it focused on a broader array of maps that those created by ODT. The book includes a wide array of visualizations for an critiques of different mapping techniques. The prose is presented in a colloquial, easy-to-understand manner. This text is a unique presentation of the problems that maps prose in their representational role in geography and world events, but is far from being a neutral presentation of facts.
Summing up: Recommended. With reservations. Lower-level undergraduates and general readers.

Green Teacher Magazine

A.C.

The world is round. Maps are flat. How we get from one to the other, according to author Ward Kaiser, says a lot about how we view the world. In his book How Maps Change Things, he argues that maps have agendas and convey messages. Picture a generic map of the world–almost unquestionably a Mercator projection. It is very good at helping navigators get places, but very bad at comparing the areas of land masses oroceans. It also tends to emphasize the dominant economies of the world at the expense of 7the rest, which may not be an accident. For while this book focuses on maps, it is really “a conversation about the maps we choose and the world we want.” Kaiser makes an effective case for social justice: shifting the future from dominance and control to fairness and equality. He feels that maps, in particular Equal Area maps (and most notably the Peters), are an important tool for radically re-visioning the world. This book could be used effectively to introduce the history of maps, the range of projections available and the value of each, as well as to springboard discussions of the type of world those maps represent. A useful, four-session lesson plan, designed for adult study groups, follows the text. It can be led by facilitators with minimal background in cartography, and could also be used in grades 7 through 12.

The Rev. Lisa Caton, Episcopal Chaplain, The College of New Jersey

Users of maps – that’s all of us – may suppose that what we see is factual, accurate, bias-free. Of course location, distance, elevation, comparative importance are reliably shown!

Not so fast, says Ward Kaiser. A map may be “right” in some ways but still dangerous to the way we live in the world.

Why? Because maps are layered with meaning. Surprisingly, their most important messages may lie beneath the surface. In his book How Maps Change Things he analyzes – actually helps the reader to dig in and discover – some of those hidden, mind-bending messages.

As a college chaplain I am acutely, sometimes painfully, aware of the often hidden narratives and symbols that define us as individuals and as a culture. Now comes this book, helping me analyze how maps – an increasingly pervasive form of symbolic messaging and story-telling in our time – connect us to power and privilege or consign us to society’s also-rans.  

Examples make the case: An intriguing regional map developed for schools in Cuba leads to the question, How does this image contribute to that nation’s distorted view of the U.S.A.? A secret map of Iraq drawn up in Washington so shifted our perception of that country that it lubricated America’s, and the West’s, decision to go to war. Several of the most popular maps of the world support a Eurocentric or America-centered worldview, aggrandizing “our” place in the world and downplaying the importance of developing nations.

The author’s point: maps are always selective, often biased, constantly nudging us to see, think and behave in particular ways. We shape maps; equally important, they shape us. Like the faith we hold, maps powerfully influence how we live in the world. Maps may work with our faith or against it.

Taking the most widely recognized world map, the Mercator, and comparing it to the Peters, one of several equal-area projections, the author clearly opts for equal treatment for all. A map like the Peters, by replacing Northern-world self-importance and undervalued tropics with precision in location and size, offers us far more than minor cartographic modification; it serves to shift our human mindset in the direction of fairness toward the whole human race.

How Maps Change Things, then, takes us well beyond squiggles on a screen or sheet of paper. The subtitle provides the clue: it points us to “The World We Want.” Kaiser, a social activist and minister with wide experience in church leadership in the U. S., Canada and overseas, is passionate about the faith-and-ethics dimension of mapping. “We dare not let this be seen as just a technical issue,” he commented in an interview. “It’s at heart an issue of justice. It’s a question that now confronts Christians everywhere as we seek to live out God’s call to faithfulness and fairness.” I encourage anyone committed to the ways of peace and of justice to get a copy, read and enjoy it and even, using the group guidance provided, set up a study/action program. It can only help us all!

Sojourners. February 2015.

Lisa Caton, Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of New Jersey

Users of maps—that's all of us—may suppose that what we see is factual, accurate, bias-free. Of course location, distance, elevation, and comparative importance are reliably shown!

Not so fast, says social activist and pastor Ward L.  Kaiser. A map may be “right” in some ways but still dangerous to the way we live in the world.

Why? Because maps are layered with meaning. Surprisingly, their most important messages may lie beneath the surface. In his full-color book How Maps Change Things, Kaiser helps the reader to dig in and discover some of those hidden, mind-bending messages.

As a college chaplain I am acutely, sometimes painfully, aware of the often-hidden narratives and symbols that define us as individuals and as a culture. This book has helped me analyze how maps—an increasingly pervasive form of symbolic messaging and storytelling in our time—connect us to power and privilege or consign us to society’s also-rans.

Examples make the case: An intriguing regional map developed for schools in Cuba raises the question of how this image contributes to that nation’s distorted view of the U.S. A secret map of Iraq drawn up in Washington so shifted our perception of that country that it lubricated the decision by the U.S. and other Western powers to go to war there. Several of the most popular maps of the world support a Eurocentric or North America-centered worldview, aggrandizing “our” place in the world and downplaying the importance of developing nations.

Kaiser’s point: Maps are always selective, often biased, constantly nudging us to see, think, and behave in particular ways. We shape maps; equally important, they shape us. Like the faith we hold, maps powerfully influence how we live in the world. And maps may work with our faith or against it.

Kaiser compares the most widely recognized world map, the Mercator, to the Peters Projection, one of several equal-area projections (he published the first English language version of the Peters map in North America in 1983). A map like the Peters, by replacing the Northern Hemisphere self-importance and undervalued topics with more accurate presentation of relative size, offers us far more than minor cartographic modification: It shifts our human mindset in the direction of fairness toward the whole human race.

How Maps Change Things, then, takes us beyond squiggles on a screen or sheet of paper. As the subtitle suggests, it points us toward seeking “the world we want.” Kaiser, who has a wide experience in church leadership in the U.S., Canada, and overseas, is passionate about the faith-and-ethics dimension of mapping. “We dare not let this be seen as just a technical issue,” Kaiser commented in an interview. “It’s at heart an issue of justice. It’s a question that now confronts Christians everywhere as we seek to live our God’s call to faithfulness and fairness.”

I encourage anyone committed to the ways of peace and of justice to get a copy of this book, read and enjoy it, and even, using the group guidance provided, set up a study and action program. It can only help us all.