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Radical Cartography


Found In: Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, 9-12

Radical Cartography is the work of Yale historian and cartographer Bill Rankin and presents “an alternative to the typical, seemingly neutral vision of geographic space as a static field of mute infrastructure and unquestioned boundaries.” Rankin explains his approach to cartography in a short video about his dot map of racial and ethnic segregation in Chicago.

Mapping Social Statistics - Race and Ethnicity in Chicago (Bill Rankin)

The website is organized idiosyncratically, but once you investigate its different sections, Rankin’s approach and purpose become clear.

Here are three examples of the kinds of maps to be found. The website homepage features a map prepared for the Army Corps of Engineers, depicting the Mississippi River’s meanders from southern Illinois to southern Louisiana.

A series of maps showing the geography of agriculture in the U.S. clarifies why the idea that the US could become a nation of locavores is impossible. And finally the Star Map and Calendar provides a program to produce a calendar showing celestial events for your location.

After exploring Radical Cartography, K-12 students can use Bing maps to create customized map projects and present them to the class in “Making and Reading Maps in the 21st Century.”

 

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