Maps and Political Propaganda

Now that we’re challenging out preconceived ideas of a world map and the world itself, let’s shake it up further with this image.

McArthur's Universal Corrective Map http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/2/maps-cartographycolonialismnortheurocentricglobe.html
McArthur’s Universal Corrective Map of the World
http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/2/maps-cartographycolonialismnortheurocentricglobe.html

One glance at this image our brain registers it is a world map, but why does it leave us with an uneasy and unsatisfied feeling? A simple act of flipping the world Mercator map that we’re all familiar with, not only makes us look twice but also challenges our perception of the world and  why we’ve come to accept a world map the way it is. I’m completely guilty of naively staring and accepting a world map as truth (Monmonier, 2014), studying borders, cities and routes, planning epic adventures… However, recently I’ve come to question if a seemingly innocent map of the world is really that innocent.

Maps are ‘used by powerful elites to satisfy their agenda’ (Evans, 2015),  and these agendas can influence ‘national pride, borders, conquests’ (Monmonier, 2014) and much more. Criticisms of the Mercator world map include its Eurocentrism and disproportionality of countries, which both contribute to a skewed vision of the world. It presents some countries like the United Kingdom and the United State of America as large, dominant and important as they are positioned the top left and middle of the map whereas other countries like Indonesia, Japan and even continental Africa as smaller and less significant due to their positioning underneath America and Europe.

University of Wollongong, biased?
University of Wollongong, biased?

Even a simple case study using the University of Wollongong as seen on Google Maps, demonstrates the relationship between wealth, power and dominance. This is the University where I study and I encourage you to search your university or home town to see which features are most prominent and question why that is so. Why is Panizzi and Out for Lunch but not the Yard or Rush? Why is the Materials Engineering, building 4 shown but not the Communications Centre or the Law Humanities and Arts building not? ‘We map what we want to see, not what is there’ (Evans, 2015).

Searching 'Israel' into Google Maps
Searching ‘Israel’ into Google Maps 2015
PalestineIsraelMap580
Israel/Palestine land from 1946-2000

On a more political note, the conflict between Israel and Palestine clearly demonstrates the use of maps to not only own and control land, but also relates to culture, history and it’s people being erased as well. The decrease of Palestinian land and growth of Israeli land is not purely about land ownership but is directly related colonial issues and political control when the British handed the land to Israel (M.S, 2010).

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‘Palestine’ according to Google Maps

In 2013, Google Maps changed ‘Palestinian territories’ to ‘Palestine,’ however, when typing ‘Palestine’ into Google Maps in 2015, this is the image produced. There is no distinct area that is labelled as ‘Palestine,’ which raises the question of political power and influence a company like Google Maps has over political control (Groll, 2013).

It is important to be aware of maps ability to lie to us and distort our image of the world, countries, ethnicities, nature and people and it is up to us to be vigilant in seeking answers.

Further Readings

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/2/maps-cartographycolonialismnortheurocentricglobe.html

References

Evans, N. 2015, Mapping the planet, BCM232, University of Wollongong, delivered 17 March 2015

Groll, E. 2013, ‘Israel isn’t happy about Google’s decision to recognise Palestine’, Foreign Policy: Passport, 3 May, accessed 18 March 2015, http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/03/israel-isnt-happy-about-googles-decision-to-recognize-palestine/?wp_login_redirect=0

Monmonier, M. 2014, ‘Maps for political propaganda’, How to lie with maps, University of Chicago Press, 10 December

M.S. 2010, ‘The map is not the territories’, The Economist, 14 March, accessed 18 March 2015, http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/03/israel_and_palestine_0

Room Decorating 101

Bedrooms should give you inspiration, should allow you to relax, motivate you to get out of bed and welcome you to a sound sleep at the end of the day. I’ve tried to take on advice of DIY magazines, stylists, blogs by sticking to a theme, a colour scheme, a purpose etc, but it always felt forced and unnatural. And now I’ve figured out the way to decorate my room which makes me never want to leave my room!

Current pictures on my wall
Current pictures on my wall

When I’ve got a big blank white boring wall, I feel dull, boring and uninspired. So, I print off my favourite photographs from the past year, of friends, family and places, take a trip down to the travel agent (or a few), rip out some beautiful pictures, scramble through my box of memories from the year (I keep anything from concert tickets, maps, foreign currency, to business cards) and pick out my favourites. Once I’ve collected bright beautiful things, I get to blu tacking and stick everything to my wall. The end result is very rewarding, colourful, inspiring and beautiful!

Don’t be afraid to get messy with it, stick up anything that makes you happy, because what’s the point in having photo albums filled with beautiful photos hidden away in a cupboard, when you can have them on display that will leave guests and yourself hypnotised!

My room in London
My room in London
Organising pictures! (a lot of them)
Organising pictures! (a lot of them)