Visualizing the hinterland as an inquiry into multi-element mapping

Authors: Megan Dixon*, The College of Idaho
Topics: Cultural Geography, Cartography, Geography Education
Keywords: countermapping, cartography, teaching, anthropocene
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


One goal of teaching in the Anthropocene must be to revise the conceptual containers in which we perceive impacts, associate responsibility, and see possibility. In an introductory course on Human Geography in an Environmental Studies program, interrogating the hegemony of the nation-state has primarily occurred discursively. While students see that natural processes cross nation-state boundaries, questioning those very boundaries happens slowly in part due to the visual aids in textbooks which tend to display almost all information via nation-state choropleths. Maps based on these assumptions tend to infect maps of other phenomena in their display of precisely delimited and self-sufficient closed shapes. As Wood points out (2010), maps of bio-regions or biomes which use solid lines between area symbols essentially copy the claims to spatial self-sufficiency promoted by state-sponsored maps of political territory. In the end, nation-state boundaries form an almost universal ground for the thematic figuration. In a parallel point, Wood provides language to question the tendency of most teaching maps (and many others) to display a single theme. He quotes Eckert as claiming that the viewer is unable to absorb too much information on a map. Thus, in teaching, a series of thematically-related maps must be shown in order to tell a more incisive story about the impact of the Anthropocene. The presentation will outline how students are using mapping activities to create "messy," overcharged maps in order to reconceptualize spaces of responsibility for climate change, primarily by visualizing “hinterland” relationships as the spatial implication of resource use.

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