No Dig, No Fly, No Go: How Maps Restrict and Control

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Press: University Of Chicago Press (May 15, 2010)
Publication Date:2010-5
Author Name:Monmonier, Mark


Some maps help us find our way; others restrict where we go and what we do. 
These maps control behavior, regulating activities from flying to fishing, prohibiting students from one part of town from being schooled on the other, and banishing certain individuals and industries to the periphery.
This restrictive cartography has boomed in recent decades as governments seek regulate activities as diverse as hiking, building a residence, opening a store, locating a chemical plant, or painting your house anything but regulation colors.
It is this aspect of mapping—its power to prohibit—that celebrated geographer Mark Monmonier tackles in No Dig, No Fly, No Go.Rooted in ancient Egypt’s need to reestablish property boundaries following the annual retreat of the Nile’s floodwaters, restrictive mapping has been indispensable in settling the American West, claiming slices of Antarctica, protecting fragile ocean fisheries, and keeping sex offenders away from playgrounds.
But it has also been used for opprobrium: during one of the darkest moments in American history, cartographic exclusion orders helped send thousands of Japanese Americans to remote detention camps.
Tracing the power of prohibitive mapping at multiple levels—from regional to international—and multiple dimensions—from property to cyberspace—Monmonier demonstrates how much boundaries influence our experience—from homeownership and voting to taxation and airline travel.
A worthy successor to his critically acclaimed How to Lie with Maps, the book is replete with all of the hallmarks of a Monmonier classic, including the wry observations and witty humor.In the end, Monmonier looks far beyond the lines on the page to observe that mapped boundaries, however persuasive their appearance, are not always as permanent and impermeable as their cartographic lines might suggest.
Written for anyone who votes, owns a home, or aspires to be an informed citizen, No Dig, No Fly.
No Go will change the way we look at maps forever.

About the Author

Mark Monmonier is distinguished professor of geography at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the author of many books, including most recently, Coast Lines: How Mapmakers Frame the World and Chart Environmental Change, also published by the University of Chicago Press.


Science & Math,Earth Sciences,Cartography,Textbooks,Social Sciences,Geography,Politics & Social Sciences,Human Geography

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Comment List (Total:1)

  •     Mark Monmonier of Syracuse University is well known as a geographer with the ability to present difficult issues to a broad audience. "No Dig, No Fly, No Go: How Maps Restrict and Control" is an enlightening and entertaining study of the manner in which maps are used to demark restrictions and force limitations on human actions. Monmonier makes the case that while we routinely use maps to find our way to anyplace we want to go, there is a broad range of specialized maps that define boundaries, confine activities, and sustain authority in ways both obvious and sublime.Monmonier's central point is that bureaucracies, power hierarchies, and legal entities use many different types of maps to exercise power over citizenry and others. They may be wielded to promote or suppress racism, sexism, and imperialism either explicitly or not; and when used effectively they have the power to alter the landscape and the human condition for the better. Examples of all types of maps abound, and Monmonier is at his best in drawing useful examples from a wealth of experience. Many of these are quite personal; mostly they are from the United States and as often as not they are drawn from his experience in New York State.Chapters deal with a range of maps. Zoning maps, voting districts, international borders, utility and property boundaries, waterways, city management, roads and right-of-ways, maps of locations of sex offenders, vice areas, and the like all find their point of discussion in "No Dig, No Fly, No Go." This is a fine work, but after absorbing his central thesis--that maps are used to restrict and control activities by a populace and have both positive or negative ramifications--I was somewhat less enamored with it. When considering the subject of "No Dig, No Fly, No Go" I realized maps are a bit like Mel Kranzberg's First Law of Technology--it "is neither good nor bad--nor is it neutral." Monmonier says much the same thing about these types of maps and their establishment in authority.A couple of specific criticisms also deserve comment. First, this is very much a work written for a general audience. There are no scholarly references, although it has a bibliography subdivided by chapter, and the writing is personal and anecdotal. While I applaud its accessibility, I am an inveterate fact checker and the more specificity I can find in any study the better. Second, and I recognize that while I approach everything from an historical perspective not everyone does, I was still a bit surprised to see that very few of Monmonier's examples had any historical tint to them. For instance, in his discussion of territorial rights and how far they extend out to sea I was astonished to see no mention whatsoever of the shooting down of the Korean Airliner KAL 007 by the Soviet Union in 1983 because it violated Soviet airspace. Such a well-known event would have been an outstanding example illustrating the points he was trying to make concerning territoriality. I could give many other examples, and I believe invoking at least some of them would have extended and amplified his argument.Overall, however, "No Dig, No Fly, No Go" is a fine book worthy of serious consideration. I look forward to reading other books on the broad uses of maps--some might consider them a social commentary on the use of maps in society--that Monmonier has written.

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