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Mapping the Middle East from Within: (Counter‐)Cartographies of an Imperialist Construction

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Abstract:  The “Middle East” is a readily accepted geographical category throughout much of the world. However, within this ambiguous geographic entity, both the term and the idea of the “Middle East” are often rejected as western‐imperialist constructs. Through a critical examination of an extensive sample of maps produced within several Arab states of the “Middle East”, I found that the regional designation “Middle East” is nearly nonexistent, while the Arab Homeland is unequivocally a more common regional category. However, the “Middle East” did occasionally appear in a few maps. This paper provides an explanatory examination of the normative cartographic discourses in this region, and more focused analysis of the atypical maps of the “Middle East”. My analyses render unique insights into how the “Middle East” is both contested and re‐created from within a western‐imperialist defined region.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geology and Geography, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA;

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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