I love maps, as I’ve talked about before in this blog. So I was enthralled by a recent article tiled “40 more maps that explain the world” in the Washington Post. This collection of maps cover diverse topics, that range from the historical (shipping routes during the colonial period) to the contemporary (a map of income inequality globally). I could imagine using the majority of the maps over the course of my “Introduction to International Studies” class. For example, in my section of postcolonialism, I could use the maps of the Spanish and Portuguese empires, African empires before the European invasions, the “What Africa might have looked like had it never been colonized” map as well as the “1916 European Treaty to carve up the Middle East.” In my section on economic globalization, I could use the map that shows the commodity chains for Nutella, as well as “Nobel Laureates since 1901, by region.” I also emphasize demographics in my introductory class, so the map on where populations are growing and shrinking globally would be a useful one. It clearly shows the challenges that Germany, Eastern Europe and Russia face. In the week on security, I would certainly use the maps showing “walls,” the Arctic land grab, the territories of Mexican drug cartels, terrorist attacks worldwide as of 2012, naval firepower in the Pacific, as well as territorial claims in the South China sea. There are even a couple of great maps for a new section that I am developing on indigenous peoples. Lastly, the map “World War Two in Europe: Day by Day” is simply an amazing achievement in historical geography. In short, the article is well worth investigating as a possible resource for an introductory class, as well as just to admire some beautiful maps.
Prof. Smallman, Portland State University