Nationalizing Cartography in the Borderlands before World War I

in Mapping Europe's Borderlands

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780226744254
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226744278 | DOI:
Nationalizing Cartography in the Borderlands before World War I

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter examines modern political mappings from the early 1890s to the start of World War I, focusing on the drama of colliding official and geopolitical claims to borderlands. To move forward in ethnonational politics circumscribed by dynastic empires, minority peoples of the borderlands, who had been labeled, now had to label themselves. The situation of covered space fulfilled the vision of Joseph Conrad, the Polish émigré writer who represented Europe's colonial explorer-geographers as truth carriers and Napoléon-like conquerors bringing their maps, charts, and other tools to colonize blank spaces. Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1902) offered a damning critique of progress and European powers' complicity in the new imperial scramble for loot. His Anglo-Polish voice captured the anxiety of an age when frontiers were indeed closing, and when writers, intellectuals, adventurers, and nationalizing politicians condemned, feared, and regretted the transformation of old Europe's imperial age.

Keywords: political mappings; borderlands; minority peoples; Joseph Conrad; explorer-geographers; maps

Chapter.  9480 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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