Just back from giving a talk at Florida State, where I gave an early version of the talk I hope to give in Paris at the International Cartographic Association (ICA). The topic was the OSS as America’s first spy agency, and the role of academics–especially cartographers and geographers–within the agency and the post-war legacy on the discipline. This was the first time I’ve presented this material and I think it went well. There were a number of questions afterwards, and the conversation moved into the hallway after we left the room–a good sign.
One grad student contested my reference to the Peters projection, not so much what I said, but Peters’ own claims that the Mercator is a racist map. I think this is still a fairly common reaction, indicating that many people don’t see (or problematise) a connection between geographical knowledges and their socio-political effects.
I stayed with Phil Steinberg while there and we had some interesting chats, including the recent William Cronon controversy. Actually what’s happening with Cronon is a good example of the connection I mention above between knowledge and power.