Secretary Haaland Takes Action Against Derogatory Place Names

We’ve seen efforts to replace racist and offensive place names in the past, but in general they’ve happened at the state or provincial level. But on Friday U.S. interior secretary Deb Haaland took action at the federal level. She issued two orders designed to speed up the replacement of derogatory place names, the process for which to date has been on a case-by-case, complaint-based basis. One order declares “squaw” to be an offensive term and directs the Board of Geographic Names to change place names on federal lands that use the term; the other establishes a federal advisory committee on derogatory geographic names.

Previously: Maine Reviews Registry Containing Racist Place Names; Racist Place Names in Quebec, Removed in 2015, Remain on Maps; Washington State Senator Seeks Removal of Offensive Place Names; Review: From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow.

Piri Reis Map Back on Display

The Piri Reis map is back on display at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. Like the Tabula Peutingeriana, it’s only taken out for display at intervals to protect it from the elements. Discovered when the palace was being converted into a museum in the 1920s, the map is the western third of a portolan chart drawn on gazelle skin parchment in 1513 by Ottoman admiral Ahmet Muhiddin Piri (“Reis”—admiral—was his title). It was an expansive compilation of ancient and contemporary sources much like the Waldseemüller map, and is fascinating in its own right; in recent years, though, it became one of the “proofs” of a nutty theory involving ancient civilizations and polar shifting. [Tony Campbell]

Previously: The Piri Reis Map of 1513; A Turkish Piri Reis Documentary Is Coming.

Maps of the Pacific

Carte très curieuse de la Mer du Sud
Henri Abraham Chatelain, Carte très curieuse de la Mer du Sud, 1719. Map, 76.6 × 137.9 cm.

Maps of the Pacific is an exhibition of the State Library of New South Wales’s holdings of maps, charts atlases and globes relating to the Pacific Ocean. “This exhibition traces the European mapping of the Pacific across the centuries—an endeavour that elevated the science and art of European mapmaking. Redrawing the map of the world ultimately facilitated an era of brutal colonisation and dispossession for many Pacific First Nations communities.” Open now at the library’s exhibition galleries in Sydney, the exhibition runs until 24 April 2022. Free admission.

In related news, the library’s Mapping the Pacific conference (previously) has been postponed to March 2022.

Geography Awareness Week, GIS Day, and the 2020 U.S. Census

In raising-public-awareness news, the third week of November is Geography Awareness Week, and since 1999 the Wednesday of that week is GIS Day.

For this year’s GIS Day, the Library of Congress is holding a virtual event focusing on the 2020 Census, featuring a keynote by Census Bureau geography chief Deirdre Bishop as well as three technical papers. The program will be (or was, depending on when you read this) streamed on the Library of Congress’s website and on their YouTube channel on Wednesday, 17 November 2021 at 1 p.m. EST, and will be available for later viewing.

Max Schörm’s Modern Caricature Maps

Max Schörm has resurrected the art of caricature maps (maps where countries are made to look like people, animal or other objects; they were a regular feature of propaganda maps of the late 19th and early 20th centuries). For the past year and a half Max has been posting new maps three times a week to his Instagram account: the maps are of countries, but also continents, provinces, states, districts and cities; some of them are of countries’ historical boundaries (e.g. interwar Romania or Habsburg Hungary—or, going even further back, Pangaea) some of them (e.g. this pinwheel map of Myanmar) are even animated. There’s a lot of whimsy and pop-culture references that don’t always match up with the borders they’re filling out; these aren’t the “serio-comic” satirical maps of the pre-World War I era. Which is to say: they’re entertaining.

Previously: A ‘Serio-Comic Map’ for the Modern Age; Another Caricature Map of Modern Europe.

Thirty Day Map Challenge

The Thirty Day Map Challenge is taking place right now on Twitter: see the #30DayMapChallenge hashtag. For the second year in a row, mapmakers are challenged to make a map based on the day’s theme. (Today’s, for example, was to map with a new tool.) It’s open to everyone; for more information and resources see the challenge’s GitHub page. Here’s the page for the 2020 challenge, which saw 7,000 maps from 1,000 contributors.

First Images from Landsat 9 Released

Landsat 9 image of the Kimberly region of Western Australia
The first image from Landsat 9, taken on 31 October 2021, is of the Kimberly region of Western Australia. (NASA/USGS)

The latest of the Landsat satellites, Landsat 9, launched on September 27. Similar to Landsat 8 with slight equipment upgrades, it will replace Landsat 7 when it is fully operational next year. Right now it’s going through its 100-day check-out, after which NASA will hand it over to the USGS. As part of that check-out, its first images were recently released. [NASA Earth Observatory]

Atlas of the Invisible

Atlas of the Invisible, James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti’s collection of new maps and visualizations based on “enormous” datasets, is out today in the United States from W. W. Norton. (The British edition, published by Particular Books, came out in September.)

The Royal Geographic Society reprints a map from the book showing the flow of ice on the Greenland ice cap and interviews James about how they used the data. James has also published some education resources related to the book on his website. And of course there’s more at the book’s website.

See John Grimwade’s post about the book, in which he asks the authors about their ideas and process. Also see reviews from Fast Company and the Guardian.

Amazon (Canada, UK) | Bookshop

Previously: Where the Animals Go.

Related: Map Books of 2021.

London Cabbies’ Unique Brains May Help Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

The Taxi Brains Project explores whether London taxi drivers’ legendary ability to navigate could help diagnose dementia. London cabbies, who since 1865 start by spending three or four years memorizing the London road network in order to learn the Knowledge, have been found to have an enlarged hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in spatial memory. Meanwhile, the hippocampus shrinks in Alzhemier’s patients. Studying the cabbies’ enlarged hippocampi may offer insights that could improve early detection. The study is seeking drivers to take tests and get an MRI scan. See the Washington Post’s story for details. [WMS]

Subscribe to the New Email Digest

Last April I told you that with Feedburner’s announcement that it would be ending email subscriptions, I would have to come up with an alternative solution for the 500 or so of you who subscribe to The Map Room via its email digest. That alternative is now (more or less) up and running: You can subscribe to the new weekly digest by entering your email on the form on this page. You will receive an automated email asking you to verify that description. Click on that email’s link and you’ll be subscribed.

From now on, email subscriptions to The Map Room will involve a summary of the week’s posts written by me, rather than an auto-post of recent blog entries. If all goes to plan, it will mostly come out on Fridays (if I’ve posted that week), plus there may be occasional announcements at other times.

In the end I decided to go with my own internet service provider’s announcement list tool. It’s very old school and a bit less easy to use than a third-party email marketing service, but far better, I think, on the privacy front. I don’t even ask for your name. Your subscription is between you, me, and my mail server.

Current subscribers were emailed on Wednesday about this change and invited to subscribe. I got a lot of bounced addresses, so it may be that some of you reading this via email did not get Wednesday’s messages. Note that the Feedburner-powered digest will be shut down after this post goes out; if you want to continue (or start) receiving posts by email, visit this page to subscribe to the weekly digest.

(Let me know if you encounter any problems. I’ve gotten reports that people aren’t getting their confirmation messages, so do check your spam folder.)

Forty Years of the History of Cartography Project

This article from the University of Wisconsin–Madison takes a look back at the 40-year history of the History of Cartography Project, which, with the forthcoming publication of its final volume, is actually coming to a close in the near future. Includes quotes from current director Matthew Edney, who first came to the project as a graduate student in 1983.

Previously: The History of Cartography’s Fourth Volume, Now (Almost) Out; History of Cartography Project Updates.

The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada’s Giant Floor Map Comes to PEI

Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada Giant Floor MapRemember the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada’s giant floor map? Measuring eight by eleven metres and created by Canadian Geographic Education (which has a lot of giant floor maps), it notably lacks provincial borders and names. It recently made its way to the University of Prince Edward Island’s education program, which occasioned this story for CBC News.

Previously: The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada’s Giant Floor Map.

16th-Century Map of the Caribbean Replaced with a Fake

Map rom Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, Legatio Babylonica, 1511. JCB Map Collection, John Carter Brown Library.

When an exhibition held in Burgos, Spain celebrating Magellan’s voyage wanted to use the Burgos Cathedral’s copy of Pietro Martire d’Angiera’s 16th-century Legatio Babylonica, which contains the first-ever map of the Caribbean, they discovered that the map had been replaced by a fake. El País reports (in Spanish) that prosecutors have closed the case for lack of information—they don’t even know when it was stolen, much less who stole it.