by Mike Heffernan
Tuesday, 13 January 2009, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, Room G22, 43 Gordon Square
This is the story of a map; though no ordinary map. When finally completed after World War Two, following 25 years of unstinting effort by a team of cartographers based in the New York headquarters of the American Geographical Society, the 1:1 Million ‘Map of Hispanic America’ was celebrated as ‘the greatest map ever produced of any one area’, an unsurpassed technical achievement and a major work of art. The origins of the map, its painstaking compilation through the 1920s and 1930s, and the use to which it was put before and after World War Two provide telling commentaries on the development of a new, more expansive US geopolitical imagination after World War One; on the creation, within this ideological perspective, of a distinctive visual image of Latin America as a singular world region linked to, and dependent upon, its all-powerful northern neighbour; and on the role science played in the early 20th century projection of US cultural, intellectual and political authority. And yet the character of the Hispanic Map was also shaped by the personal motives and dialogues of the many characters and agencies involved in its construction, in the USA and throughout Latin America.
Mike Heffernan is Professor of Historical Geography at the University of Nottingham. His current research projects include: Geography, citizenship and national identity in Europe and North America, 1870-1945; Landscape, war and memory, 1914-1940. He is the author of The European Geographical Imagination (2007), among several articles.
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