No Dig, No Fly, No Go
How Maps Restrict and Control
Some maps help us find our way; others restrict where we go and what we do. These maps control behavior, regulating activities from flying to fishing, prohibiting students from one part of town from being schooled on the other, and banishing certain individuals and industries to the periphery. This restrictive cartography has boomed in recent decades as governments seek regulate activities as diverse as hiking, building a residence, opening a store, locating a chemical plant, or painting your house anything but regulation colors. It is this aspect of mapping—its power to prohibit—that celebrated geographer Mark Monmonier tackles in No Dig, No Fly, No Go.
Rooted in ancient Egypt’s need to reestablish property boundaries following the annual retreat of the Nile’s floodwaters, restrictive mapping has been indispensable in settling the American West, claiming slices of Antarctica, protecting fragile ocean fisheries, and keeping sex offenders away from playgrounds. But it has also been used for opprobrium: during one of the darkest moments in American history, cartographic exclusion orders helped send thousands of Japanese Americans to remote detention camps. Tracing the power of prohibitive mapping at multiple levels—from regional to international—and multiple dimensions—from property to cyberspace—Monmonier demonstrates how much boundaries influence our experience—from homeownership and voting to taxation and airline travel. A worthy successor to his critically acclaimed How to Lie with Maps, the book is replete with all of the hallmarks of a Monmonier classic, including the wry observations and witty humor.
In the end, Monmonier looks far beyond the lines on the page to observe that mapped boundaries, however persuasive their appearance, are not always as permanent and impermeable as their cartographic lines might suggest. Written for anyone who votes, owns a home, or aspires to be an informed citizen, No Dig, No Fly. No Go will change the way we look at maps forever.
“Once again through his popular writing, Monmonier has made the lines of a map jump off the page and talk to us, only this time they scream and shout in a threatening voice, ‘No!’ The book examines use of the map as a source of authority across time and space: we encounter maps used to divide up property and to exclude people; maps that function as devices of colonialism and ways of divvying up the oceans; and maps that corrupt voting and regulate human behavior. Read this book, and perhaps never again will you casually ignore those cartographic lines, borders, and red zones that really do rule the world.”
“We tend to think of maps as guides that show us how to get from one place to another, or that show us where places are. But they are much more value-laden than this. More often than not, they tell us where we can't go and what we can't do. Mark Monmonier calls this dimension of the map-making enterprise "prohibitive cartography". In this lively and illuminating work, he looks at everything from property boundaries, arbitrarily imposed colonial borders, gerrymandering, environmental zoning, satellite tracking and the control of airspace. Crucial to his analysis is our unconscious acceptance of these cartographic boundaries and the social acquiescence that these borders demand. Prohibitive cartography has its roots in Roman times when boundary stones were altars to Terminus, the god of boundaries. The penalty for destroying or moving one was death or a large fine. Monmonier deftly teases meaning from the most innocuous-looking of dotted lines.”
“A thought-provoking book of much interest for both citizens and cartographers. . . . Highly recommended.”