15 - Divided States of America
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
I was alerted to these maps by a Turkish gentleman, who posts them on his website. They are a reaction to the map of the Middle East, re-drawn as it was in the July issue of the US Armed Forces Journal (mentioned earlier in this blog). This American vision has upset a lot of people in the Middle East, not in the least in Turkey, which, in that American scenario, would lose about a quarter of its current territory in the East to a Free Kurdistan.
Unfortunately, my Turkish is not very good, so I can’t read the text explaining the map-drawing competition. The caption above the maps is, however, clear: Divided States of America in, United States of America out. Some maps are funny, others are a bit grim, but every map speaks volumes about the ‘hearts and minds’ the current US administration has lost, around the world and particularly in the Middle East.
Here is a selection, taken from Açik Kistihbarat‘s site.
(a) Canada comes south
The three countries most affected by American foreign policy get a big slice of the US, Iraq occupying the West Coast, Afghanistan the eastern part up to the Mississippi, Palestine most of what’s in between. A purple sliver between Iraq and Palestine is reserved for something I can’t translate. Bizarrely, two UN institutions get Louisiana (WHO) and Wisconsin and some of Michigan (Unicef).
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