Imagining and Representing the Spatial Aspect of Actors and Societies

  • Marie-Françoise Durand
  • Benoît Martin
Part of the The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (SPIRP)


Like statistics, maps are pictures designed by their author or contracting organization, and as 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.


The History of Representations

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Graphic Semiology and Cartography Manuals

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Books or Atlases that Include the Geo/Cartographic Dimension in Their Thinking

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Françoise Durand
    • 1
  • Benoît Martin
    • 2
  1. 1.Sciences PoParisFrance
  2. 2.Sciences Po, Center for International Studies (CERI) and Atelier de CartographieParisFrance

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