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Maps and Visualizations

The conquerors and colonizers came with maps—dreams of a planet they could see and measure. That dream of the perfect macroscope, of the Aleph, from which all could be alloted and traversed, was never far from our world of collections and curations. If Cristobal Colón came armed with charts and maps, his out-of-wedlock son Hernando was right in step building his total library. Their god-complex continues today, and maps and charts—now turned into literal machines—have much work to do to redeem themselves from their dreams of conquest as they take their place next to our digital libraries and archives.

And yet… these war machines, these eyes, can and have been used by those who rebel. Counter-surveillance and new forms of imagining ourselves have become possible. That machinic work is increasingly at the hands of scholars of history and the humanities, and the work below testifies to the possibilities that lie ahead for us—even as the shift in our epistemologies of space, the border thinking of a Gloria Anzaldúa, remain elusive…