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The Cartography Center of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) started in October of 1941 with hand-drawn maps that plotted the geographic data of World War II. The Center today harnesses more advanced, digital technologies, but the goal remains the same: to visually convey data in a way that will be understandable for a broad intelligence audience. For the Center’s 75th anniversary, the CIA announced last month that it was releasing several albums of declassified maps, which represent its decades of activity, onto Flickr. From the Russian front of 1942 to the threatened elephant populations of Africa in 2013, the maps are an archive of American involvement in global conflicts and crises.
The CIA states on its site that the Center’s “chief objectives are to analyze geospatial information, extract intelligence-related geodata, and present the information visually in creative and effective ways for maximum understanding by intelligence consumers.” As Greg Miller at National Geographic noted, one of the images shows President George W. Bush and members of his staff viewing a CIA map on September 29, 2001, reflecting a period when the terrain and cartography of Afghanistan was surveyed ahead of the American invasion.
Likewise, each map is a time capsule of that era’s international issues. The 1940s include a 1942 map of German dialects, and a 1944 map of concentration camps in the country. The 1950s, with innovative photomechanical reproduction and precast lead letters, saw maps on the Korean War and railroad construction in Communist China. The 1960s are punctuated by the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam War, while the 1970s, with increasing map automation, contain charts of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Arab oil embargo.
The 1980s maps involve the Falklands War and the Iran–Iraq War, while the 1990s, through newly sharp 3D perspectives and animations, have maps addressing African and Central American humanitarian emergencies, as well as the location of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). More recently, the 2000s digital maps analyze conflict in the Middle East and nuclear developments in Iran and North Korea, and 2010s maps examine the allocation of water resources in Mexico, and malaria risk in Southeast Asia.
“A map should be aesthetically pleasing, thought-provoking, and communicative,” stated the CIA Cartography Center’s founder, Arthur H. Robinson. And intelligence maps are a distinct design challenge, as they can influence governmental strategy and policy. However based on President-elect Trump’s disinterest in intelligence briefings, perhaps it’s time for the CIA to enter a new era of covert Tweeting for this administration’s cartography needs.
Below are some examples of the declassified CIA maps, along with cartography tool photographs that represent the early years when Office of Strategic Services (OSS) cartographers created their maps by hand.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…