Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

September 18, 2006
By

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A recent review in the Times Literary Supplement nicely summarizes Mark Monmonier’s latest book, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame: “Molly’s Nipple, Utah. Brassiere Hills, Alaska. Dago’s Gulch, Montana: naming places has always been political as well as a personal act, but Mark Monmonier’s boyishly infectious history of (principally American) toponyms maps out the sexism, racism, and imperialism through which we have come to know our landscapes.”
The TLS review (published in the UK, remember) cites several interesting examples including the late-nineteenth century “anti-imperialist” Harrison government’s attempt to instill nationalist sentiment through nomenclature: “Centreview (Mississippi) [was renamed] as Centerview, Isleborough (Maine) as Isleboro … and thereby insured Americans would never again pronounce Edinburgh correctly.”
“Edinburgh”? Has to rhyme with “Pittsburgh,” right?
As the TLS review notes, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow “shows that maps are no more neutral than any other record of human construction” and are as much an indispensable resource to the cultural critic as to the geographer.
Read an excerpt from the book. Mark also contributed an essay to this blog, which includes a map of Brassiere Hills.

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