Sunday, April 25, 2010

The cartography of segregation

Nearly every U.S. city is radically (and disturbingly) segregated, with stark divides of race, ethnicity, and class. I've been playing with various ways to show these divisions, using graphics which are equally evocative, provocative, and rigorous. I've posted two new projects, showing two possibilities: one for Chicago, and another for New York.

In both projects I'm reacting in part against maps which show ethnic areas using solid homogeneous colors, often highlighting only the majority group — such as this Wikipedia map of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or this New York Times map of Pashtuns in the Sulaiman Mountains. Not only do these maps fail to show local diversity or ethnic overlaps, but they visually reinforce the all-or-nothing logic of national territorial statehood that made the conflicts in question so intractable in the first place. These cases are crying out for new forms of mapping — mapping which could directly provoke new ways of thinking. (In other words, radical cartography to the rescue!)

I have high hopes of using such alternative cartographies to make a comparative series showing the morphologies of segregation across all major U.S. cities (something similar to my income donut project), but alas, for now I'm working on a city-by-city basis. In the meantime, see my wall maps of Phoenix for a different version of this same sensibilty.

As always, comments heartily solicited, and much appreciated!