Annual Report FY 2004 - Research at Cornell

08. Raymond B. Craib, History

Cartographic Mexico: A History of State Fixations and Fugitive Landscapes (Duke University Press, 2004). Cartographic routines such as exploration, surveying, and mapmaking played a powerful role in the creation of the modern Mexican state. Such routines were part of a federal obsession—or ”state fixation”—with determining and fixing geographic points, lines, and names in order to facilitate economic development and political administration. In addition to analyzing the maps that resulted from such routines, Craib examines in close detail the processes out of which they were created. Taking central Veracruz as a case study and drawing upon an array of sources—maps, peasants’ letters, official reports, and surveyors’ journals and correspondence—Craib shows how in the field, agrarian officials, military surveyors, and metropolitan geographers traversed a “fugitive landscape” of overlapping jurisdictions and use rights, ambiguous borders, and shifting place names, while encountering villagers with their own conceptions of history and territory. The book reveals that surveying and mapmaking were never mere technical procedures, but were—and remain—profoundly social and political practices.

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