The Evolving Map.

Posted: May 17, 2012 in Uncategorized
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By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

I have seen this amazing map/video circulating the web recently, and I was intrigued.  What strikes me as so effective about this video is it gives us a sense of the mutability of human made political geography.  Unfortunately, Americans are notoriously ignorant about geography. What’s the big deal, you may say? Well, this time lapse map illustrates why this is something to be concerned about.  Ignoring geography makes many believe that the map today is unchanged from the past. Lacking the ability to understand historical and geographic change makes people feel that what they know today will always be, giving them a sense of hubris.  This map should show how wrongheaded such lack of thought is. We can plainly see that kingdoms, empires and republics have risen and fallen at an incredibly fast pace during the last 1000 years in Europe, as in the rest of the world. There is no reason to think that this will change, though many fool themselves into believing otherwise.

One other danger of geographic ignorance: the educated man/woman needs to realize that the little quick flicks on this time lapse map represent still unhealed scars for millions of people.  Wars, ethnic cleansing, and religious tensions are being fought, planned, and escalated as a result of the events that are signified within the first seconds of this time lapse.  To think that events from millennia ago have no effect on our lives today is dangerously naïve.


  1. PG says:

    First, after reading the article about how bad Americans are at geography, I decided to take an online US geography quiz. I was doing awesome until it asked me to locate Delaware. But, c’mon. It’s Delaware:

    Do you think that people are more aware of small-scale, local changes in boundaries, like to whatever city we live in, or maybe something like school district boundaries? Or do you think people (or Americans specifically) are still fairly unaware of that stuff?

  2. GrantOster says:

    I am glad to see this video with a corresponding article. I read and write mainly about history, so I have seen this passes around, a lot. Enjoyed your post!

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