This clip from The West Wing blows my mind every time I watch it. I mean, it totally blows my mind. I still can't wrap my head around the different projections - I'm just as freaked out as CJ when the map gets flipped - but I'm fascinated by the idea that there are so many different ways to explain who and where we are. As Max Fisher of the Washington Post writes, "Maps can be a remarkably powerful tool for understanding the world and how it works, but they show only what you ask them to."
Since I didn't entirely leave my love of history behind at school, I'm especially interested in the maps that show how borders have shifted as people have migrated, invaded, and colonized over the centuries, and I really think we can only understand the impact of these changes once we're long past them. It's stunning to see, for example, how the reckless carving up of entire stretches of the globe have led to conflict that continues to this day, or how trade priorities led to the non-native place names that we still use on our maps. I wanted to share a few of the ones that I have studied in the past or want to learn more about; I've tried to put them roughly in chronological order here for historical flow. (Yes, I know, I'm a huge nerd.) If this is your thing, too, click on the sources (at the bottom of this post) for context and further information!