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Harley, Brian (1932–1991)

  • By: Dennis Reinhartz
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

James Brian (J. B.) Harley was a historical geographer and a key figure in the contemporary field of the history of cartography. He helped lay down some of its main theoretical foundations and ideas on how to look at maps and helped structure and expand the discipline as well. Central to his contribution was his conception of the map as a social and not simply a technical construct. As exemplified by his Maps and the Columbian Encounter, published in 1990, using notions from postmodern literary criticism and from the history of art, he especially scrutinized maps for their “hidden agendas” and “silences” and other biases that directly reflect the values of their creators and the times of their creation. He fervently advocated the study ...

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