Part or chapter of a book
Imagining and Representing the Spatial Aspect of Actors and Societies
Resources and Applied Methods in International Relations
57 - 73 p.
international relations, research, maps, spatial representation
Like statistics, maps are pictures designed by their author or contracting organization, and a such these visualizations come to serve a particular practice or discourse. The various historical uses of maps (discoveries, administration, interstate sovereignty, etc.) show how effective they have been in serving specific purposes and also why they have been taken up so late by science. In the context of international relations research, designing a map should be considered a continuous process in which each choice - source, base map, statistical and graphic processing - has repercussions for the final image and thus its interpretation. This chapter uses two examples to illustrate these issues: international migration allows us to address certain issues concerning the nature of data (stocks/flows) and scales (global/regional/national); then, the case of France's arms exports provides an opportunity to question data producers (think tanks), units of account (values/percentages and chronology) and synchrony/diachrony. Finally, the last section evokes the multiple uses of maps in international relations research.