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LIVING MAPS SEMINAR: State Sponsored Secret Cartography

  • The Nash Lecture Theatre Kings College London, The Strand, London, WC2R 2LS (map)

With John Davies and Alexander Kent (authors of ‘The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World’, published by University of Chicago Press)

During the Cold War the Soviet Union carried out a cartographic project of unprecedented scale and ambition – the detailed mapping of the entire world. Not only strategically vital ports and industrial centres, but cities, small towns and rural areas alike, however unimportant, were plotted and recorded. The Soviet compilers developed a set of standard conventions, symbols and colours for the maps which ensured consistency across the world and enabled a map user to instantly interpret the landscape depicted. This included, for example, annotation which quantified the characteristics of bridges, highways, rivers and forests.

In this seminar John Davies and Alexander Kent will discuss their recent book The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World. Join us for a critical discussion of state sponsored covert mapping – how these maps came to light, how they were made, what they were used for and how they might be understood in a historical and contemporary context – as well as stories of how the project came together.

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John is editor of Sheetlines, the journal of the Charles Close Society for the Study of Ordnance Survey Maps. Alexander is Reader in Cartography and Geographical Information Science at Canterbury Christ Church University and a former president of the British Cartographic Society.

Date and Time:

Wednesday 14th February 2018 

18:00 – 20:00


£10.00 and £7.50 concessions

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Venue: The Nash Lecture Theatre, Kings College London, The Strand, London, WC2R 2LS