Photo courtesy of IHS Conflict Monitory.
In a new paper published in the GeoHumanities Journal, professor Dietmar Offenhuber investigates the visual languages of maps depicting the Islamic State (IS) and their political implications.
Offenhuber addresses a conundrum faced by news organizations, which, by mapping IS territory, implicitly acknowledge its statehood. He investigates how different mapping methods carry different connotations for representing the strength and nature of the terror state, arguing that the statehood is symbolically contested through cartographic choices that reflect the diverging interests of mapmakers.
“Maps of Daesh: The Cartographic Warfare Surrounding Insurgent Statehood” considers the maps created by amateur conflict mappers and visual forensics experts who extract and cross-reference information from social media, including posted cellphone and drone footage, georeferenced tweets, and satellite images. Offenhuber argues that the novel visual strategies developed by these practitioners to present visual evidence emphasize nonrepresentational aspects of cartography and represent a countermodel to established cartographic languages that follows an indexical rather than iconic or symbolic paradigm. Read the full paper.