Alexander James Kent

Alexander James Kent
Canterbury Christ Church University · School of Psychology and Life Sciences

MPhil (Cantab) PhD FBCartS FRGS FRSA FSA SFHEA
Always open to explore new possibilities for research collaboration!

About

109
Publications
84,386
Reads
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550
Citations
Citations since 2017
61 Research Items
432 Citations
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Introduction
Reader in Cartography and Geographic Information Science at Canterbury Christ Church University (UK), Chair of UK Cartography Committee (National Delegate to the ICA), Editor of The Cartographic Journal, and Chair of the ICA Commission on Topographic Mapping. Also, Past President of the British Cartographic Society. My research explores the human geography of mapping with three main foci: (a) cartographic style and aesthetics; (b) Soviet mapping; (c) maps and society.
Additional affiliations
August 2015 - present
Canterbury Christ Church University
Position
  • Lecturer
October 2013 - October 2013
Institut Cartogràfic i Geològic de Catalunya
Position
  • Lecturer
August 2010 - July 2015
Canterbury Christ Church University
Position
  • Lecturer
Education
January 2004 - March 2007
University of Kent
Field of study
  • Geography
September 1998 - August 1999
University of Cambridge
Field of study
  • GIS and Remote Sensing
September 1995 - July 1998
Oxford Brookes University
Field of study
  • Cartography/Geography Joint Honours

Publications

Publications (109)
Article
Full-text available
Despite their status and ubiquity, modern state topographic maps are seldom the topic of cartographic research. There is a notable deficiency in the number of empirical studies that investigate their design, or, given their heritage, examine their symbology with a view to identifying the ingredients of style. The issue of stylistic similarities and...
Article
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To what extent do European state topographic maps exhibit unique styles of cartography? This paper describes an investigation to classify and analyse stylistic diversity in the official 1:50 000 topographical mapping of 20 European countries. The method involves the construction of a typology of cartographic style, based upon the classification of...
Book
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Nearly thirty years after the end of the Cold War, its legacy and the accompanying Russian-American tension continues to loom large. Russia’s access to detailed information on the United States and its allies may not seem so shocking in this day of data clouds and leaks, but long before we had satellite imagery of any neighborhood at a finger’s rea...
Book
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This new Handbook unites cartographic theory and praxis with the principles of cartographic design and their application. It offers a critical appraisal of the current state of the art, science, and technology of map-making in a convenient and well-illustrated guide that will appeal to an international and multi-disciplinary audience. No single-vol...
Article
Full-text available
This short paper outlines the Soviet military global mapping project and focuses on the city plan of Dover (UK) – a town local to the author – to offer a personal view of how Soviet military maps may be regarded as supreme examples of cartographic design with an enduring power to fascinate.
Technical Report
Full-text available
This document contains supplementary information for the report: Sites for Sustainable Development: Realizing the Potential of UNESCO Designated Sites to Advance Agenda 2030. The main report can be accessed here: https://unesco.org.uk/sites_for_sustainable_development_main_report The executive summary (English) is available here: https://unesco.org...
Technical Report
Full-text available
UNESCO sites are uniquely placed to address 21st century sustainable development challenges them by bringing people, communities, businesses, and organizations together to mobilize solutions locally, regionally and internationally. People and communities worldwide are facing unprecedented challenges that are set to accelerate in the coming decades....
Technical Report
Full-text available
This document is the executive summary of the report: Sites for Sustainable Development: Realizing the Potential of UNESCO Designated Sites to Advance Agenda 2030. The main report can be accessed here: https://unesco.org.uk/sites_for_ sustainable_development_main_report The executive summary (French) is available here: https://unesco.org.uk/sites_...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This document contains supplementary information for the report: Sites for Sustainable Development: Realizing the Potential of UNESCO Designated Sites to Advance Agenda 2030. The main report can be accessed here: https://unesco.org.uk/sites_for_sustainable_development_main_report The executive summary (English) is available here: https://unesco.org...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter outlines Russia’s geospatial evolution from its inheritance of the Soviet global mapping project towards a unified geographic information space, and evaluates the strategic advantages this offers. It explores how the legacy of the Soviet project has provided Russia with an unparalleled geospatial resource and with a “mental map” that u...
Article
Full-text available
The rapid growth of urban populations presents challenges to the sustainable management of cities and requires accurate geospatial data. Historical maps offer a largely untapped resource for enhancing OpenStreetMap (OSM) and Soviet military mapping presents a potentially rich geospatial resource for this purpose. This paper compares these global ma...
Article
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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) is known principally for his contribution to Western art and for his technological ingenuity, as captured in his surviving notebooks. A polymath and quintessential figure of the Renaissance, his immense output and creative genius transcended the boundaries of art and science. This paper examines the unique qualities of...
Article
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Soviet military maps utilized a comprehensive cartographic symbology that was designed for mapping the globe at various scales, including thousands of towns and cities in street-level detail. This paper presents an analysis of the Soviet symbol specifications, as defined by the official cartographic production documents, and aims to offer some insi...
Article
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This paper investigates user preferences and behaviour associated with 2D and 3D modes of urban representation within a novel Topographic Immersive Virtual Environment (TopoIVE) created from official 1:10,000 mapping. Sixty participants were divided into two groups: the first were given a navigational task within a simulated city and the second wer...
Article
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It is rare for a map to become a design icon. If technology provides the catalyst for the development of cartography, its transformation over the course of the twentieth century should perhaps have yielded a wealth of examples. Yet, as Monmonier (2005: 223) observes, although that century was more effective in fostering new genres (cartograms and n...
Article
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One hundred years after the UK’s first devolved government was established, it is worth reflecting on the role of maps in shaping Northern Ireland’s past, present and future.
Preprint
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Uncorrected preprint accepted for publication in the International Journal of Cartography, Volume 7 No.2. This short paper outlines the Soviet military global mapping project and focuses on the city plan of Dover (UK) to offer a personal view of how Soviet military maps may be regarded as supreme examples of cartographic design with an enduring pow...
Preprint
Full-text available
Uncorrected manuscript of editorial for The Cartographic Journal Vol. 58 No.1 (February 2021). Some figures have been omitted for copyright reasons.
Article
Ninety years after its inception, it is worth reflecting on how and why Beck's design became an icon, and whether this can offer some insights about the nature of cartographic innovation that can inspire us today.
Article
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Preprint
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Uncorrected pre-print of editorial for The Cartographic Journal, Vol. 57 No.3 (August 2020).
Article
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Is this cartography’s defining moment of the century? The year 2020 has so far been dominated by the impact of COVID-19, the disease associated with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. With global cases exceeding 30million and leaving almost one million dead by August, humanity has not suffered such a devastating pandemic for over a hundred years. M...
Article
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This short paper presents a brief overview of the Soviet global military mapping programme and focuses on its coverage of Malta. It examines the Soviet topographic mapping of the archipelago at various scales (from 1:1,000,000 to 1:50,000), illustrates how the extensive Soviet symbology was used to portray various aspects of the Maltese landscape,...
Article
Reviews of the books "Topographic maps: the scientific principles of their content" (Moscow: MAIK Nauka/Interperiodika, 2002) by Tamara Vereshchaka and "Military topography" by Valery Filatov (Moscow: Voyennoye Izdatel'stvo, 2010).
Article
The atrocities of Nazi Germany included the radical transformation of natural landscapes. At Ravensbrück (Brandenburg), a lakeside setting became the site of the largest women’s concentration camp in Germany, processing approximately 159,000 inmates until 1945. Similarly, at Flossenbürg (Bavaria), a picturesque valley in the Oberpfälzer Wald housed...
Technical Report
Senior Fellowship of the HEA is awarded to professionals who demonstrate they meet the criteria of Descriptor 3 (D3) of the UK Professional Standards Framework. The Reflective Account of Professional Practice provides an overview of my professional practice and how it has developed through my higher education roles, responsibilities and professiona...
Book
Full-text available
This volume comprises a selection of research papers that were presented at the 7th International Symposium of the ICA Commission on the History of Cartography, which took place in Oxford, UK, from 13 to 15 September 2018. It is the fifth volume in a series of proceedings which has been made possible through the partnership between the Internationa...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
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 paper presents an analysis of the symbology devised by the Soviet Union for its series of secret military...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Virtual reality (VR) is a display and control technology that provides an interactive computer-generated three-dimensional environment to a user, often via a Head Mounted Display (HMD). VR delivers an immediate and immersive sensory experience of simulated worlds (which may or may not resemble reality), particularly of environments that might other...
Conference Paper
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As part of its secret Cold War mapping programme, the Soviet Union produced detailed plans of over 2,000 towns and cities within foreign territories around the globe. Some of these maps were made available for the first time in 1993 at the 16th International Cartographic Conference in Cologne, Germany, via a Latvian map dealer who discovered them a...
Article
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Does the type of map we use affect how we engage with a place in situ? This paper describes a creative activity that aimed to explore how the use of different topographic maps affects our engagement with an urban environment. Three groups of participants explored the neighbourhood surrounding the Gelman Library at George Washington University, each...
Article
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Maps need our imagination to work. Few maps, however, stimulate our imagination with as much delight and wonder as those of Leslie MacDonald (Max) Gill (1884–1947) — architect, illustrator, letterer, decorative artist — and revolutionary map-maker.
Article
Full-text available
The Soviet military mapping project was the most comprehensive cartographic endeavour of the twentieth century. The resulting maps have been commercially available to the West since at least 1993, when a Latvian business first offered Soviet plans of Western cities for sale at the 16 th International Cartographic Conference in Cologne, Germany. Cov...
Article
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Communication was the first paradigm to gain widespread acceptance amongst the international cartographic community. Drawing on aspects of information theory to rationalise the process of transferring knowledge from the map-maker to the map-user, its aim was to optimise 'map effectiveness' by treating the map as a vehicle for communication. From th...
Article
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This paper provides a brief illustrated overview of the Soviet military mapping programme, which was probably the most comprehensive (and significant) cartographic project of the twentieth century. It lists the different types and scales of maps that were produced and highlights their key aspects through a comparison with national mapping (e.g. Ord...
Article
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Chapter
In the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the commercial availability of previously classified Soviet military mapping has revealed the vastness of a global mapping project, previously unknown to the rest of the world, comprising detailed topographic maps and city plans at several scales. Although numerous libraries and archives arou...
Article
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This address was given at the 54th Annual General Meeting of the Society, which was held at the McCrum Lecture Theatre, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge on Tuesday 14th November 2017. It offers a reflection on the changing role of maps in society and the challenges and opportunities that this presents to us as cartographers and as th...
Chapter
Full-text available
Are maps supposed to be beautiful? Aesthetics, as a line of enquiry that questions beauty and effect, plays a central, if under-researched, role in map-making (Kent, 2005). Using a language of graphical symbols, cartographers wield the power of aesthetics to affect how people approach a place, or a topic. Whether we are using a map to navigate or j...
Chapter
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This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book provides insights into virtual worlds of gaming and the maps involved. It concerns how maps model the Earth and provide a concise but pragmatic approach to the scientific basis of cartography, while incorporating a survey of the ke...
Chapter
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Maps can play a role in reinforcing or even constructing various forms of spatial identity, the most obvious being a sense of nation, but they also have a role in constructing other forms of identity, from personal issues such as sexual orientation to ‘virtual identities’ as part of Internet communities. Yet a sense of national identity is the form...
Article
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. Many libraries and archives around the world are discovering and acquiring these maps and plans, developing vas...
Article
Full-text available
What can professional mapmakers learn from neocartographers, who produce maps without having received any formal cartographic training? Is neocartography widening the aesthetic language of cartography? In this paper, we attempt to answer these questions by analysing some recent examples of neocartography and from interviewing two leading neocartogr...
Article
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http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00087041.2016.1219059
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http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00087041.2016.1196939
Article
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http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00087041.2016.1163793
Article
The Cartographic Journal was established a year after the founding of the British Cartographic Society in 1963 and so 2014 marked 50 years since the first, general-distribution journal of cartography in English was published. This paper offers a brief account of its genesis and its development in reflecting and shaping the leading themes in cartogr...
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Article
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This finely decorated and most beautiful map of the village, more specifically, of the land belonging to Timothy Bedingfield, is a fantastic example of a seventeenth-century estate map (Figure 1). It was produced by one of the leading map-making dynasties of the county, the Hill family, who practised in Canterbury – a city which nurtured a strong t...
Article
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Today, more people are making, sharing and using maps than ever before. While advances in technology have, to some extent, always shaped how maps are made, shared and used, in this paper I suggest that a series of three key innovations early in the new millennium not only transformed mapping practice, but 'rebooted' cartography. Derived from a keyn...
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Article
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Maps have long served a role in the marketing of products and places, as well as providing basic spatial information. Some purely functional maps achieve a particular status as icons of place (the London Tube map is a classic example), while others are deliberately designed to evoke a ‘sense of place’ and attract business or visitors (think MacDona...
Article
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Interest in the aesthetics of cartography has soared during the last decade, catalysed by the wider democratization of mapping and broadening of the cartographic canon. The rise of neogeography and map art has inspired a growing community of user-cartographers to experiment with the expressive power of maps while cultivating a wider appreciation of...
Article
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In this paper, we aim to provide a brief introduction to aesthetics and its relationship with cartographic design. We will not explore the topic in any detail or discuss problems associated with the creation of “rules” of design, but will instead focus on providing some concise definitions for the benefit of practicing mapmakers, especially those w...
Article
Full-text available
Aesthetics plays a key role in cartographic design and is especially signifcant to the representation of place, whether by the state, the community, the crowd, or the artist. While state topographic mapping today demonstrates a rich diversity of national styles, its evolution (particularly since the Enlightenment) has led to the establishment of a...
Article
Full-text available
As part of its secret military mapping program the Soviet Union produced large-scale maps and plans of hundreds of towns and cities around the world. The end of the Cold War and the subsequent fall of communism saw the eventual closure or transformation of cartographic factories in the former Soviet republics, and, for the first time, these highly...
Book
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As the British Cartographic Society marks its 50th anniversary, we are recognising the work of cartographers over the past half century by recounting the history of the Society and collating exemplary cartographic products that have been produced over the last 50 years to illustrate major news events. Illustrated with over 130 maps, this book prese...
Article
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Time is usually the worst enemy of the map designer, and cartographers must all too often sacrifice rounds of trial and error when searching for a visually successful solution. The arrival of a book called Cartographer's Toolkit, which is "full of map parts to assist in the map production process" (p. xiii) and meant "for all map makers in the worl...