Contemporary Geopolitics and Digital Representations of Space

Open access


This research is premised on two theoretical constructs: that maps do not objectively depict space and that traditional cartography produces a geopolitical narrative. The research aim is to investigate geopolitical influence in modern, digital representations of space, and vice versa. This paper is divided into three parts: In the first, the digital representation of space is introduced and explained, and two widely acknowledged digital cartographic services are established as the empirical foundation of the research – Google (Google Maps and Google Earth), designed by cartographic and geo-data professionals, and OpenStreetMap, built through crowdsourcing. In the second part, the geopolitical features of traditional cartography are discussed in the context of digital mapping, including ethnocentricity and hierarchical representations of space, similarities to geopolitische karte, and “minor geopolitics.” The final part asks and answers a key question about geopolitical subjectivity: “Who benefits from the geopolitical narratives in digital representations of space?”

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Agnew J. 2003. Geopolitics: Re-visioning world politics Second edition. London/New York: Routledge.

  • Boria E. 2008. Geopolitical Maps: A Sketch History of a Neglected Trend in Cartography. Geopolitics 13(2): 278-308.

  • Caquard S. 2011. Cartography I: Mapping narrative cartography. Progress in Human Geography. 37(1): 135–144.

  • Countries OSMstats. Available at: [accessed 12 April 2017].

  • Crampton J. W. 2009a. Cartography: maps 2.0. Progress in Human Geography 33(1): 91–100.

  • Crampton J. W. 2009b. Cartography: performative participatory political. Progress in Human Geography. 33(6): 840–848.

  • Defarges P. M. 2006. Geopolitički rječnik. Zagreb: CPI.

  • Dodds K. and Atkinson D. 2003. Preface. In: Dodds K and Atkinson D. Geopolitical traditions: A century of geopolitical thought. pp. xiv - xvi.

  • Dodds K. 2005. Global Geopolitics a critical introduction. Essex: Pearson.

  • Dodds K. 2007. Geopolitics a very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Eckert P. 2013. Google Earth helps put North Korea gulag system on the map. Reuters. [online]9 January. Available at: [accessed 16 April 2017].

  • EPSG: 3857 OpenStreetMap wiki. Available at: [accessed 8 February 2017].

  • Farman J. 2010. Mapping the digital empire: Google Earth and the process of postmodern cartography. New Media & Society. 12(6): 869–888.

  • Gerlach J. 2015. Editing worlds: participatory mapping and a minor geopolitics. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 40(2): 273–286.

  • Gordon E. 2007. Mapping Digital Networks: From cyberspace to Google. Information Communication & Society. 10(6): 885-901.

  • Harley J. B. 1989. Deconstructing the Map. Cartographica. 26(2): 1-20.

  • Kumar S. 2010. Google Earth and the nation state: Sovereignty in the age of new media. Global Media and Communication. 6(2): 154–176.

  • Lee M. 2010. A Political Economic Critique of Google Maps and Google Earth. Information Communication & Society. 13(6): 909-928.

  • Offen K. 2012. Historical geography II: Digital imaginations. Progress in Human Geography. 37(4): 564-577.

  • Parsons E. 2013. The Map of the Future May Not Be a Map! The Cartographic Journal. 50(2): 182–186.

  • Plantin J.; Lagoze C.; Edwards P.N. and Sandvig C. 2016. Infrastructure studies meet platform studies in the age of Google and Facebook. New Media & Society. 1-18.

  • Program Corona Mission and Spacecraft Library – NASA JPL. Available at: [accessed 8 February 2017].

  • Stats OpenStreetMap wiki. Available at: [accessed 9 February 2017].

  • Validating OpenStreetMap MapBox. Available at:[accessed 6 May 2017].

  • Why NATO isn’t Obsolete Google Maps Mania [online]16 January 2017. Available at:’t-obsolete.html [accessed 5 March 2017].

  • Yeo S. 2016. Geopolitics of search: Google versus China? Media Culture & Society. 38(4): 591–605.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.31

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.114
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.418

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 239 129 5
PDF Downloads 128 91 5