“Cartographic objects” are subject to Jack Goody’s reflection on the “graphic reason” describing the impact of the graphic form of information on how to apprehend it [GOO 77]. But maps are not merely tools to visualize information; they also have a logistic function. Analyzing how the uses of cartography changed during the 19th Century reveals the emergence of its role as a tool to manage complexity [ROB 08a]. Maps were transferred in the 19th Century from the hands of geographers to those of engineers [PAL 96] as a consequence of an effort to standardize metrology [FLI 04: 25], of a sufficient topological survey and of an increase in the needs for human and territorial management, described as statistical reasoning [DES 10]. This rationalization through maps is illustrated by its use in new sectors such as urban planning and medicine: these two case studies of map uses provides an introduction to the relation between science and politics, which are still present today.
As we analyze the overlap of writing and image within maps, Anne-Marie Christin’s thesis on the “graphic un-reason”, which she elaborated through her discussion with Jack Goody on the notion of “graphic reason”, comes to mind. Maps as “intellectual technology” enable us to collect and circulate writings [LAT 85], which Pascal Robert [ROB 08a] takes further by emphasizing the logistic uses of maps to manage complexity.