Friday 19 July 2013

The Centre of the World

World maps do have a long and controversial history as they depict political and socio-economic interests. The size of different countries did not only depend on geographic data but also on aspirations to present one's own nation as larger, as superior. An often cited example is the Mercator projection that distorts size making the Northern Hemisphere appear much larger than it actually is. The "Greenland Problem" refers to the fact that Greenland seems to be the same size as Africa although Africa is fourteen times larger. (image via)


Being European, I grew up with a Eurocentric map, with Europe in the middle. And being centred in the middle, I clearly knew what was East and West. Or thought so. When I used to study Japanese my professor once told us that when she moved to Austria it took her a while to understand what we meant when we spoke of Japan as a country in "the Far East". Japan was not in the East, it was in the centre. She had grown up with a world map showing Asia in the middle. Isn't it fascinating how relative things are?... (images via)

Eurocentric view:


Asiacentric view:

Americacentric view: