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The Cartographic State Maps, Territory, and the Origins of Sovereignty by Jordan (Brown University, Rhode Island) Branch

The Cartographic State Maps, Territory, and the Origins of Sovereignty


Part of the Cambridge Studies in International Relations Series

RRP £20.99

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The Cartographic State Maps, Territory, and the Origins of Sovereignty by Jordan (Brown University, Rhode Island) Branch

Why is today's world map filled with uniform states separated by linear boundaries? The answer to this question is central to our understanding of international politics, but the question is at the same time much more complex - and more revealing - than we might first think. This book examines the important but overlooked role played by cartography itself in the development of modern states. Drawing upon evidence from the history of cartography, peace treaties and political practices, the book reveals that early modern mapping dramatically altered key ideas and practices among both rulers and subjects, leading to the implementation of linear boundaries between states and centralized territorial rule within them. In his analysis of early modern innovations in the creation, distribution and use of maps, Branch explains how the relationship between mapping and the development of modern territories shapes our understanding of international politics today.


'This is a fascinating book that retells history of modern cartography from an international relations perspective. As such, Branch skillfully brings together critical interpretations from two areas of scholarship to provide a compelling argument on how the developments of maps and political sovereignty are crucially linked. The primary thesis is that the depiction of bounded spaces on early modern maps preceded modern political practice premised upon bounded spaces. This has important theoretical ramifications for understanding how a uniquely modern form of relations between states was created ... This book has stimulated me to engage with its ideas; it presents a very distinctive and distinguished argument that I recommend others to likewise engage with.'
Peter J. Taylor, The Cartographic Journal

About the Author

Jordan Branch is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Brown University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and in 2011-12 he was the Hayward R. Alker Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California. His articles have appeared in the European Journal of International Relations and in International Organization.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th November 2014


Jordan (Brown University, Rhode Island) Branch

More books by Jordan (Brown University, Rhode Island) Branch
Author 'Like for Like'


Cambridge University Press


242 pages


International relations



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