👓 The Woodard projection | Jon Udell

Redrawing of map of the United States into subsections as described at https://web.archive.org/web/20190123191012/http://emerald.tufts.edu/alumni/magazine/fall2013/features/up-in-arms.html
Read The Woodard projection by Jon UdellJon Udell (Jon Udell)

In a memorable episode of The West Wing, visitors from the Cartographers for Social Justice upend CJ’s and Josh’s worldviews.

Cartographer: “The Peters projection.”

CJ: “What the hell is that?”

Cartographer: “It’s where you’ve been living this whole time.”

I’m having the same reaction to Colin Woodard’s 2011 book American Nations. He sees North America as three federations of nations. The federation we call the United States comprises nations he calls Yankeedom, New Netherland, The Midlands, Tidewater, Greater Appalachia, The Deep South, El Norte, The Far West, and The Left Coast.

Here’s his definition of a nation:

A nation is a group of people who share — or believe they share — a common culture, ethnic origin, language, historical experience, artifacts, and symbols.”

I love the concept of this thesis! Ordering a copy of the book for myself.

I’ve lived in Greater Appalachia, The Deep South, Yankeedom, The Midlands, and the Left Coast and I’ve always unconsciously known many of these borders within culture. It’s often been difficult to describe the subtle cultural shifts and divides between many of these places to others. I can’t wait to read a book that delves into all of it depth.

3 thoughts on “👓 The Woodard projection | Jon Udell”

  1. I’m not sure I understand, perhaps because I was not born in the USA. Does North America in this context include Canada and Mexico or does it just mean the United States of America?

    1. I’ll have to dig into it more deeply, but my presumption is that, despite the fact that some of the map covers beyond its borders, this is just talking about the United States and does not include Canada or Mexico. Some of the effects take into account older history, so despite current geopolitics, the effects can be cross border in some small cases. My guess is that there’s also some blurring at some of the borders drawn on the map in question within the US as well.

      I imagine that a similar effect could be seen within Canada based on it’s colonial history with the French and others including the United States and its own indigenous peoples.

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