Maps and Politics

I’m teaching an “Introduction to International Studies” course this quarter, and I began by talking about colonialism

"World Map On Brick Wall" by Ohmega1982
“World Map On Brick Wall” by Ohmega1982

and its legacy. As part of this discussion, I talked about the psychological and educational legacies of the imperial period, including how it has shaped our modern world view. I then showed the class three different maps: a Mercator map, a Hobo-Dyer projection, and a map that had south at the top. After class a student shared a link with me, which showed an episode of West Wing, and a map of Africa with the U.S., India and China (amongst others) within it. Here was exactly the exercise I had done with the students, only with much more humor. Thanks to my student Colleen for sharing this, and Rollie Williams for his post, “We have been misled by an erroneous map of the world for 500 years.” Want to see even more maps? Look here.


Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

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