Golovnev A. V. Playing Maps: Visualization of the North

A. Golovnev - Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
ORCID: 0000-0002-5716-655X
E-mail: Andrei_golovnev@bk.ru


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ABSTRACT. Map is a visualization of space, its schematic perception and depiction inherent to people of various cultures from time immemorial. At the same time, it is a tool for both presenting and conceptualizing information. As a form of visual geopolitics, cartography implies the right to space, place naming, and designation of borders and other contours of the world. The article discusses the means and traditions of the cartographic visualization of the North, starting from the Arctic rock paintings and up to the mapping of Russia’s northerness. It consists of the sections titled “The web of routes and pillar of the sky”, “The North above and below”, and “A view from the Arctic”. In the traditional indigenous Arctic peoples’ perception, the North is centered onto the Polar Star and scenarios of movement relative to it. The North is pictured not dualistically against the South, but rather in a dynamic balance, and understanding of the symbolism of the North is rather achieved by abandoning the black and white assessment and tuning in to complex spectra and fine shades. The combination of halftones and color gradients expresses the dramaturgy of the North with its original, sometimes harsh and ambiguous values and attitudes. The northerness of Russia, clearly visible on maps, particularly in the polar projection, corresponds to its spatial and cultural position as a country of high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. However, the northern identity is so obvious and familiar to Russia that it does not manifest itself ideologically.


KEYWORD: map, visualization, northerness, Russia, Arctic


DOI 10.31250/2618-8600-2021-3(13)-207-243
УДК 004.92



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