A cartographic analysis of Soviet Military city plans

PhD Thesis

Davis, M. 2018. A cartographic analysis of Soviet Military city plans. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences
AuthorsDavis, M.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

The collapse of the Soviet Union has seen the emergence of its unprecedentedly comprehensive global military mapping programme and the commercial availability of a vast number of detailed topographic maps and city plans at several scales.

This thesis provides an in-depth examination of the series of over 2,000 large-scale city plans produced by the Military Topographic Directorate (Военное топографическое управление) of the General Staff between the end of the Second World War and the collapse of the USSR in 1991. After positioning the series in its historical context, the nature and content of the plans are examined in detail. Aspects of the poststructuralist deconstruction of texts, as advocated by Jacques Derrida, are fused with ideas from the emerging post-representational framework within cartography to form a pseudorepresentational paradigm which acts as the theoretical framework through which the Soviet plans are analysed.

This new perspective brings forth possibilities to utilise and apply the maps in new contexts, which this thesis facilitates by providing a systematic, empirical analysis of the plans’ symbology at 1:10,000 and 1:25,000, using new translations of production manuals and a sample of the maps. This reveals new details of the most comprehensive, globally-standardised topographic symbology ever produced, incorporating 630 graphical symbols in total, with 47.0% and 52.1% of these used in the sample of maps at both scales respectively. Elements of the physical environment account for the largest components of the symbology, with ‘Hydrography and Coasts’ the largest feature class at 1:10,000 (84 symbols) and ‘Vegetation and Soils’ at 1:25,000 (66 symbols). A comparative analysis with the OpenStreetMap symbology indicates scope for Soviet mapping to be used as a valuable supplementary topographic resource in a variety of existing and future global mapping initiatives, including humanitarian crisis mapping. This leads to a conclusion that the relevance and value of Soviet military maps endures in modern applications, both as a source of data and as a means of overcoming contemporary cartographic challenges relating to symbology, design and the handling of large datasets.

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Publication process dates
Deposited28 Mar 2019
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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