This chapter focuses on the persuasive power of language maps, a visual media first invented during the nineteenth century. Alsace and Lorraine’s historically strong connections to the German-speaking world, even centuries after their annexation to France, made them the subject of extensive experimentation with language mapping during the age of nationalism. For German nationalists who believed that language was the most important signifier of national identity, making maps of the French-German language border became a favourite method for arguing that Alsace and Lorraine belonged naturally inside of a German state. The German nationalists’ language maps, however, were met with resistance from Alsatian regionalists who rejected binary images of a French-German language border in favour of Alsatian dialect maps. This chapter argues that these dialect maps constituted a form of “counter-mapping,” a subversive approach to territorial representation that challenged the dominant nationalist cartography of its time.
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