Finding the Center
Finding the Center
This chapter explores local and regional maps of Alsace-Lorraine that constructed up-close, experiential, and emotional views of the borderland. Each time that the French-German border moved hundreds of kilometres back and forth between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River, thousands of villages became part of a new national community. This chapter analyses how mass-produced village maps became powerful pedagogical tools for teaching ordinary Alsatians and Lorrainers about the relationship between their local hometown and their new national or regional homeland. Printed in small publishing houses, local maps—particularly cadastral and classroom maps—presented images of land on a scale small enough for villagers to recognize from experience. Using embellished decorative imagery that defied rational modes of territorial representation, local mapmakers transformed villages into utopian places. They promoted an idealized understanding of nationally rooted villages that fit within a constellation of other “French” or “German” hometowns. Like language maps (Ch.3), however, village maps were in danger of being appropriated by regionalists as tools of cultural resistance. Rather than connect the borderland’s villages to a larger map of France or Germany, Alsatian regionalists created their own counter-maps that situated their villages within a self-sustaining regional space.
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