Maps and Landscapes - Theory and Method
A great part of my answer to the posed research questions will be to find out what exactly a map is. Both in a material way and as a theoretical concept. As a second step I must try to find a way to methodologically approach the map and its different layers in a qualitative way.
The map as an immutable mobile
For a start we can all agree that a map never represent reality as it is. The number of ways a map can be used is manifold and it seldom comes on its own. A map is often accompanied with text such as propositions, media articles and remittances, or is a part of encyclopedias, atlases or books. The map always have a specific purpose or is a part of an argument in all of these cases. By necessity it is thus always an abstraction or a summarization of something larger and more complex.
A city map that aspired to represent every traffic light, every pothole, every building, and every bush and tree in every park would threaten to become as large and complex as the city that it depicted. And certainly it would defeat the purpose of mapping, which is to abstract and summarize.
How do the process of abstraction and summarization that Scott mentions actually occur? A map often claims to be a representation of reality as we would experience it if we were ‘there.’ And since the subjectively chosen data that constitutes the map is dependent on the cartographers’ purpose and experience as she or he moves through the landscape, what we see in a map is the specific cartographer’s perspective.
To probe the question of how knowledge of a place is produced and turned into maps, I will use the French sociologist Bruno Latour’s concept of immutable mobiles. Without getting too entrenched in his reasoning behind the concept of immutable mobiles, I can say that an immutable mobile is a visualization of collected and inscribed information. Imagine for example a diagram or a graph. A graph consists of series of information gathered for a specific purpose which is then translated into a visual form to pose an understandable argument. For instance, it would be impossible to understand a geographical position just by reading a text description of a map.
The map constitutes a series of information, but not every information available. It can be a massive amount of collected and processed textual data from field work and astronomical observations that in the end comes down to a single two dimensional visualization. Since the cartographer always makes a map with a certain purpose such as navigating, tourism, measuring potential resource amounts, tax outtakes and so forth, some things will be left in and some things out. 
However, what makes the mobile part of the Latours’ theory interesting is that immutable mobiles can be layered upon each other and form large sets of data. Once a map has been compiled it is decoupled from its maker and can be stored and sent to other places. This is one of the key aspects of immutable mobiles. It can be brought as a simple document to other scholars and other nodes of calculation resources independent of its maker. Moreover. The 2D nature of, for example a map, makes it possible to layer information, compare and correct with other immutable mobiles. The Immutable mobile thus moves through both distance and time. 
The neatly stacked layers of information made understandable with visualizations can in turn create uniform systems of calculations of different types. Consider a meteorological observation station somewhere remote. A single meteorologist can spend a lifetime in compiling a set of statistics for a specific region. The information he has makes sense only at the place where he is. However, as the statistics of for example annual rainfall is filled in and sent by mail to the meteorological institute in Stockholm, the lone meteorologist’s data can be compared and added to all the other meteorologist’s data who are doing the same thing at other places. Their gathered data forms a complete picture of annual rainfall in all parts of Sweden. In the same manner Sweden’s first complete set of maps, The General Staff Map, were made. All the observations the cartographers made were compiled in a centralized institution. Latour calls a centralized collection of immutable mobiles a centre of calculation.
Maps as a power relation
Based on this argument one could ask, how do the state use the set of data that it gathers? How do the state use the meteorological data or maps that it gathers? James C. Scott in the book Seeing like a State offers an interpretation of measurements such as the enforcement of the metric system, uniform time measurement, calendars and detailed maps as a way for the emerging state to see where it is otherwise blind and left to oral witness. In essence, any such uniform system is made possible by the systematic collection of data, visualized as immutable mobiles and then layered and added with more information. Thus, in combination Latour's immutable mobiles and Scott's state-power perspective shows that the visualization of landscape such as a map can serve as a form of tool to exercise power over territory remote from its core. The arctic region of Norrbotten is significantly remote from the centralized power in Stockholm. But when a map of Norrbotten is made from data extracted from that particular place and then brought to Stockholm the government can impose laws and regulations, draw borders and expropriate land without having to go there personally themselves.
Scott mentions city plans as an example of how the gathering and compilation of immutable mobiles (maps) can be used by authority to shape landscape. The purpose of city plans is to control how the city should progress and grow over time in accord with specific ideals. However, Scott says that standing on the sidewalk in Chicago you cannot see or experience the grid shape enforced by the city plans. To be able to see (and draw the grid shape) you must watch the city and its landscape from above in one way or another. The map is a substitute for the top-down perspective and allows what Scott calls “God’s eye-view or the view of an absolute ruler.” Only from a sky perspective can the authoritarian control over the city’s planning and development be understood. The map thus becomes the mediator that make the power relation between state and place possible. With a map over its territory, the state is no longer blind.
So what we can see here is that when an immutable mobile is gathered into a centre of calculation, the political actors can use them for political purposes. The political actors can so to speak ‘tap’ into the information and with it make propositions, government reports or educational material for that matter. When the politicians have the map, they can use it to shape the landscape even if the original map never was made with that purpose.
A maps context and details
I have so far discussed how maps, understood as immutable mobiles, can be analyzed as a mediator between state and landscape. However, maps as an artefact on its own can and has been analyzed in other ways as well. The environmental historian of Science and Ideas Sverker Sörlin writes that in the beginning of the 20th century the role of the national map was to create an experience of national identity. Having a map on the classroom wall, depicting the Swedish territorial extension, was a way of tutoring “territorial alfabetism” to Swedish school children. They had to recognize Swedishness in the borders and the images of Sweden just as well as in poetry and literature.
The ‘room’ where the map is located can also be an abstract context such as government propositions or books. The maps in these cases functions like any other picture. To understand them they must be studied within the context where they exist. For example in Sörlin’s case it is not the specific symbols that map features but the map as an artifact in itself and where it is placed in a specific room that matters. Its surrounding context such as its function in an argumentation, its utopian outlook and who it addresses are in these cases the object of study.
We can also zoom in to see the details of the map, such as shapes and data, names, colors, fonts et cetera. This mode of study addresses in particular the cartographer’s selection of data. Amap of a metro system can serve as an extreme example. Every metro station in Stockholm has a map of the system’s extension. To make it interpretable for the stressed citizen heading to work, the map is reduced to depict the metro only and nothing else. Modern commercial maps bought in gas stations usually has signs on them symbolizing their own corporation but no other corporations. Tourist maps have another set of symbols to point in the direction of historical places or monuments and a map made with a military purpose focuses on topographic details and infrastructure. The common ground is however that all of the different maps can depict the very same site but the base layer used and specific symbols added conveys different meanings and purposes depending on who the map addresses. A place therefore has different meaning for each individual and that meaning can be understood by studying the maps that the individual uses. The symbols themselves can also be traced backwards in time since they often are used in a uniform manner. For instance, the symbol for railroad or gas station is often similar whatever country you are positioned in.
Making places out of sites
A map can thus be studied on several different levels and every level can reflect different things either through its origins, its use, or its detail. The collection of information about a specific place tells us something of who needs information and who can acquire it. Also, who owns the right to the map, and who can use it for politics tells us about which actor has the ability to act. Additionally, the choice of details or the frame of the map is important since it reflects what the actor wants the user to see.
All in all, these different levels comes down to how a landscape is shaped by politics. As things are made in the landscape by ideological acts the above process is invoked: Someone at some time has gathered information about a place, someone else has used that information for political use. When a decision is ratified an object is constructed in the same landscape. That object is by necessity an artefact that in some way or another manifests the actor’s ideological intent.
However, the object can be physical or non-physical. For example, a national park made with the intent of preserving a certain land area as it is, does not necessarily have any physical borders such as a fence. In that case it is the mere idea of the park that embodies the political actor’s ideology. The law that protects a park can also be seen as manifestation of the actor’s ideology but exists nowhere else than in a law book that has to be taken seriously by the surrounding actors. A road for automobiles on the other hand is definitely physical but can nonetheless be analyzed in the same manner.
The social construction of places
But how can laws, abstract borders and roads have meaning outside of its physical existence and how do sites become places worth mapping?
The map in Sverker Sörlin’s example, had in that case a specific meaning that the actors in the discourse attribute to the object. The meaning, whatever it contains, is constructed in the social interaction. Without the school children or the teachers to actively see it and discuss it, the map on the classroom wall would be rendered meaningless. The object has no essence by itself, it has to be seen in a specific context to be understood and appreciated.
This statement is also transferable to landscape. Meanwhile Abisko National Park and Transnational Road 98 has a physical extension. I argue their apparent meaning could be seen as something constructed in the social relationship between people using and experiencing the objects. The relationship between social constructivism and landscape is further discussed by the American historian David J Bodenhamer in the anthology The Spatial Humanities:
Spaces are not simply the setting for historical action but are a significant product and determinant of change. They are not passive settings but the medium for the development of culture. All spaces contain embedded stories based on what has happened there. These stories are both individual and collective, and each of them link geography (space) and history (time). More important they all reflect the values and cultural codes present in the various political and social arrangements that provide structure to society. In this sense then the meaning of space, especially as place or landscape, is always being constructed through the various contests that occur over power.
Bodenhamer presents two examples to explain this. One where feminist geographers have raised critique against feminization of mapped objects with phrasing such as 'virgin land' and 'mother nature' and another where native Indians have complained that what has been depicted as New World and untouched or uninhibited by humans were their homelands for generations. For Bodenhamer, this is a very convincing example of how the human understanding of the world is socially constructed.
I claim that, while the fact that Abisko National Park and the surrounding areas is accessible for recreational purposes can be said to be true, the value or meaning of such access is socially constructed and expressed by actors and agents with relations to that place. The beauty of the mountain range in Abisko, Torne Lake or Kärkevagge or any other site in the area become a place worth seeing in the social context between humans. The sites have no essential trait apart from its material extension. A mountain can either be treated as a resource, an obstacle, a beauty, a religious site or a hiding place depending on the situation.
Method of inquiry
This thesis is a study of three maps, depicting the same geographical region but made at different times and with different purposes. The first map is part of a proposition to instigate Abisko National Park, the second present nine different alternatives on how a road between Kiruna and northern Norway could be built, and the third depicts the decision to let the road cut through Abisko National Park. These three maps will have a front position during my research.
However, to be able to unravel the maps different layers and the meaning of the places they depict, the maps have to be analyzed alongside other material as well. The first map, included in Proposition 1909:125, has been studied with the help of mostly secondary literature since the early 20th century nationalism in Sweden has been widely explored by other scholars. The second map has been studied with SOU 1958:1, SOU 1966:69 (Bilaga 5) and SOU 1969:56 (SOU: Official Government Report) and mainly Per Lundin and Olle Hagmans dissertations as secondary literature. The third map presented together with Proposition 1974:107, has been studied along with Riksdags Protocol 1974:89 §5, where the Riksdags debate concerning the proposition was recorded.
Furthermore, I have used digital methods to reach my conclusions. As my thesis has progressed it has been significantly useful to be able to use the web based platform Omeka and Neatline to study the maps that this thesis concerns. I have used programs such ArcMap and QGIS to georeference the maps in their digital form. Georeferencing means that historical maps are tied to coordinates related to a navigational system (in this case WGS84). This procedure makes it possible to layer the maps on top of each other in different manners and study them in relation to each other on digital platforms.
So with this said, this chapter finally comes down to four concepts that will function as methodological questions that has been put in relation to each map:
1) The map as an immutable mobile: This question asks where the maps base layer originates from. What information is the map made out of, what is its origins?
2) The map as a power relation: For whom was the map made, and who uses it?
3) The maps context and details: In what context does the map occur, and what has been added or removed for this particular context. What can the contemporary ideological background say about the map?
4) The depicted landscapes meaning: Taken together, what does the three above concepts say about what meaning the depicted place acquires in relation to the maps?
Exploring Digital Humanities
Since this thesis involves maps, an object best experienced in visual form, I have taken the opportunity to explore digital visualizations of them as a parallel project. Practically this means that this thesis will also be presented as a web based Omeka-Neatline exhibition on the domain mapping.urbanarctic.net. I will let the reader (or perhaps user?) explore that site without further explanation but I do want to say some things about the relation between this utterly text based thesis and its web based counterpart.
Since this thesis will revolve around the physical landscape, and since some of my sources are based on geographical material there is reason to consider using the visual experience as a way of completing my argument. Large parts of my empirical chapters discusses objects on the maps and the maps themselves. On the website, the map can be explored simultaneously as the text is being read. The map is thus always present and can be juxtaposed with the other maps in a pedagogical way. The best way of optimizing the capability would probably be to use the site parallel to reading the thesis with the purpose of exploring the details mentioned in the thesis. So, consider this thesis perhaps more as a modest exploration of how traditional forms of scientific writing can be supported and developed with digital methods.
 Scott (1998), p.87.
 Bruno Latour uses this concept to follow an epistemological argument concerning the spread of scientific results and changes in scientific paradigms. According to Latour the layering of processed information is one of the key aspects of modern scientific thought. For a short introduction I recommend the article “Visualization and Cognition: Drawing things together” originally published in Knowledge and Society Studies in the Sociology of Culture Past and Present, vol.6 (1986), p.1-40 <http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/21-DRAWING-THINGS-TOGETHER-GB.pdf> retrieved 2013-12-16. For a more complete argument I recommend the book Science in Action (Cambridge 1987), especially chapter 6 “Centres of Calculation”, p.215-258.
 Latour (1986), p.19ff.
 Bruno Latour uses the term Centres of Calculation to describe these centralized institutions, see Latour (1987), p.236ff.
 Scott (1998), p.23-33.
 Scott (1998), p.57.
 Hettne et. al. (2006), p.340-343.
 David J. Bodenhamer, John Corrigan, & Trevor M. Harris, (eds.), The spatial humanities: GIS and the future of
humanities scholarship, (Bloomington 2010), p.16.
 Ibid. p.16.
 This argument is also inspired by Winther Jörgensen & Phillips classic book on discourse analysis. The term discourse analysis is of course older than their work. Michelet Foucault is perhaps the one scholar that introduced the method and theory as we know it today. Winther Jørgensen, Marianne & Phillips, Louise, Diskursanalys som teori och metod (Lund 2000), p.10ff.
 All of them can be viewed at the National Library except the oldest can be viewed in digital form. All documents concerning the road project are available in the Road Office’s archives in Härnösand. Kiruna Municipality also has documents concerning the road in their own archives and all remittances and documents concerning the propositions can be seen in the National Library in Stockholm.
Vägplan för Sverige D.1 (SOU 1958:1) <http://libris.kb.se/bib/13483458> ;
Trafikutveckling och trafikinvestingar (SOU 1966:69, Bilaga 5) < http://libris.kb.se/bib/13927021> ;
Vägplan 1970 (SOU 1969:56) <http://libris.kb.se/bib/14681064>;
Proposition 1974:107 <http://data.riksdagen.se/fil/A0564EBA-6A78-4379-A0C2-7D1413171966>;
Riksdagsprotokoll 1974:89 <http://data.riksdagen.se/fil/604EA936-5BF0-4FCD-9312-3B456D83EFA7>;
Sven Godlund & Gunnar Rasmusson Planering för väg Kiruna-Nordnorge: ett bidrag till den tillämpade geografin
(Stockholm 1961) <http://libris.kb.se/bib/738076>; Sven Godlund & Gunnar Rasmusson, Väg Kiruna - Nordnorge:
natur- och näringsgeografisk undersökning utförd år 1959, (Stockholm 1960) <http://libris.kb.se/bib/3200901>.
 There are few works in Swedish historiography that resembles or relates to my scope here. However a notable one, is Reinhold Castensson and Urban Windahl’s work on the Göta Kanal cartography. Just like him, I have used a web based platform for his research and it is still accessible today (although its compatibility with contemporary browsers is quite faulty). Reinhold Castensson & Urban Windahl, De historiska Göta Kanalkartorna: design, tekniskt utförande och nyttjande av kartwebben (Linköping 2001) <http://liu.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:375797> retrieved 2012-12-12.