The latest cover of the revered weekly The Economist, uses a map to poke fun at a post-independence Scotland, with such new location names as “Skintland” for the country, and “Loanlands” and “Edinborrow.” The title of the cover story is, “It’ll Cost You: Scottish independence would come at a high price.” The map of the story has generated a great deal of feedback, even before reaching newsstands, with online comments in the thousands on the news magazine’s website.
The cover story talks about a Scotland referendum for independence in Autumn 2014. Emotions are running high over the slight, with the First Minister even saying that the magazine will “rue the day” it poked fun at the Scots. The map is being called insulting, offensive, racist, and likely worse. Regardless of your view, the satirical map has obviously hit a raw nerve as I suppose any talk of independence will.
If anything, it speaks to strong feelings between a map of place and our ownership of place. What’s on that map becomes sacred, with map names taking on our allegiance, experience and emotions about a place. Certainly the map has been used effectively for satire over the years, with famous examples.
I can’t think of another recent magazine cover blow-up like this, regardless of the subject matter or means of depiction, although covers are often controversial in order to generate newsstand sales. Geographers should be heartened by this show of the effectiveness of map communication, as well as the affirmation that maps are sacred objects. Can you think of another satire map that has raised such ire?