2014. Compiled using QGIS and designed with Adobe Illustrator/Avenza MAPublisher.
Duke University Press released A Nervous State by Univ. of Michigan Professor of History Nancy Rose Hunt in early 2015. We collaborated on six maps that attempt to distill complex social, political, and cultural forces across a deeply impactful period in the history of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. We begin by situating a particularly notorious Leopoldlian rubber concession along a tributary of the Congo River, and illustrate how this particular region lies at the confluence of foreign colonial aims, both by Europeans from the west, and Arabs from the east. Subsequently, we depict the boundaries drawn by European powers in central Africa by the early 1900s. We conclude with geographies of colonial incarceration and resistance. Six small maps that alone provide only a glimmer of a multi-faceted place and time—but in the context of the book, ground selected themes and provide a visual argument for why the locations of these forces matter—that the legacy of past injustices unfold spatially in new and sometimes tragic, sometimes hopeful events.
As always with maps produced for the Press, visual design economy is paramount: no color, and a palette of percent black that permits the legibility of text elements. The more elements or themes added to the map, the more those elements begin to compete for limited resources. I use the text haloing properties afforded by MAPublisher to provide a little more space to symbolize a broader range of qualitative information, whether the theme is colonial land holdings, change over time, or the extents of various activities across the landscape. Still not perfect in the execution, but I find the compilation of historically-relevant and period-appropriate geographic information, much of it digitized from historic maps I georeferenced in QGIS, to be particularly strong. To map is to research, and discover. My thanks to Dr. Hunt's assistant, Tristine Smart, for pulling together so many primary and secondary map sources for this project.