Basically, there are three different ways of viewing the maps, the viewer, the image or how maps are compiled and texted, and the referent or meaning (historical, textual and social). The discussion will show how maps can contribute to cultural or intellectual violence in three separate instances.

The LIE of Terra Nullius
Terra Nullius implies no ownership of land. In 1770 Captain Cook , with the help of his Mercator map, sailed to Botany Bay, Sydney, and “discovered” the Australian continent, which the natives had been living there for centuries. According to prevailing International law, Britain viewed the place as “uninhabited” and settled there as if the land was vacant, and acted as if the aborigines were not “people”, and with the power of knowledge, legalized the settlement. It was an act of intellectual violence. After dispossessed of their land, their population decreased tremendously in war and diseases. They were then removed from their settlement and assimilated in “homes” and “protectorates”, or, in short, remapping their boundaries, and changing their social structure, contributing to cultural violence.

Montgomerie’s mapping of Tibet in 1870
In 1855, British colonial government appointed Montgomerie, who had no surveying or cartographic skills, to head a team of Indian surveyors, impersonated as Tibetan monks, to map the entire Sino-Indian border. In 1914, the purpose of the Simla Convention was for the British to annex territory in order to build a buffer state between Tibet and China. The McMahan Line was drawn indiscriminately using the watershed principles of the highest peaks, which included cultural city of Tawang. When the British ended their colonial rule in 1947, the Indians took this imaginary line as actual border and hence causing perennial intellectual and political violence between the two big neighbours.

Falkland Islands Sovereignty Dispute
British claim to sovereignty over the Falklands was disputable; despite located more than eight thousand miles away. Argentina disputed this claim and fought a lost war with UK in 1982. Falklands Island had been under various colonial rules, including France, Spain and America, and its economy was self-sufficient. The inhabitants today were no longer the same indigenous people, and thus the debate on appropriateness of self-determination. Spain had surrendered the Falklands to Argentina in 1810, and the island faced its continental shelf. However, when UK was strong militarily, and with American and European support, the violence was justified “intellectually”, for might could be constructed as right.

(399 words)

1. Prof Eklund, (2001) Terra Nullius and Australian Colonialism, cited 19th-02-2014
2 Evan Towt, (2010) Border Conflict and Tibet: The Asian Giants and Their History of Power Struggle, SIT Study Aboard, cited 19-02-2014
3. Hickman,Kenny.The Falklands War: An History cited 19-02-2014
4. Evan Towt. Border Conflict and Tibet: The Asian Giants and Their History of Power Struggle.SIT Study Abroad.2010. 03-03-2014
5.Gregory Clark.In Fear Of China.Chapter5: Sino-Indian Dispute. 03-03-2014
6. E Leanor Standford.Falklands Islands.Countries and Their Culture.Cited 03-03-2014

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