[ISHMap-List] Map archives and South China Sea territorial disputes

Tony Campbell tonycampbellockendon at gmail.com
Sat Oct 4 11:25:36 CEST 2014

"Joining the dashes. The South China Sea’s littoral states will fight in 
the museums, in the archives and on the maps" (The Economist, 4 October 


The selective use of early maps for use in contemporary disputes about 
territorial boundaries or the naming of seas and straits presents 
obvious dangers for the independence of the History of Cartography as an 
academic subject.There is nothing new about this. Publications and 
exhibitions about the 'Persian/Arabian' Gulf or 'Sea of Japan/East Sea' 
have been a regular feature for some time.

But no-one as far as I know has threatened military action about those. 
The Economist piece highlights the heightened multi-national arguments 
about maritime boundaries in the South China Sea, involving Vietnam, 
China, Taiwan and the Philippines, not to mention Malaysia. The article 
describes the current mushrooming of exhibitions as a 'spectator 
sport'.It is hoped that historians of cartography can remain as 
observers only.

Tony Campbell

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