What choices do mapmakers face when representing land and geographic space? What can maps reveal about the political, commercial or even personal dynamics at play during their creation? The exhibit, Borders: Created, Contested & Imagined, on display in Zimmerman Library through 2024, invites students, faculty, and the community to embark on a thought-provoking exploration of the dynamic interplay between maps and the societies they represent.
Borders: Created, Contested & Imagined, focuses on the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico curating maps found in the University Libraries Federal Repository, the Center for Southwest Research Special Collections (CSWR) and the Map & Geographic Information Center (MAGIC).
Recently, Zimmerman Library added new exhibition spaces where the maps are displayed. These formerly empty library walls were redesigned to highlight distinctive library collections and to showcase student and faculty scholarship. Exhibit systems were installed in Zimmerman’s North Entrance Hall, along the library’s north interior wall just passed the service desk, and on the south side of the Learning Commons. The Borders exhibit occupies the north exhibit spaces.
Currently, the south exhibit space features visualizations and information from Freshman Honors Class “The Legacy of Human Rights” taught by Associate Professor Sarita Cargas. The exhibit calls attention to a persistent but not widely acknowledged problem on New Mexico university and college campuses - housing and food insecurity. Cargas is the principal investigator of the UNM Basic Needs Project Team which is studying these issues at 27 campuses across the state. The display will be available to view until March 2024.
Borders: Created, Contested & Imagined showcases a variety of maps from the library’s distinctive collections and seeks to explore cartography’s many forms, variations and purposes. The oldest map in the show is from the sixteenth century and the newest from 2022. Some maps are hand-drawn and some were commercially printed for navigation or for tourism. The exhibit includes maps designed by artists and even simple sketches made during legal disputes. Several of the maps reflect different time periods and aspects of the historical and ongoing fight for native sovereignty across the United States.
Among the notable highlights are a trio of historic maps in Zimmerman’s North Entrance Hall. Two maps in this group show the evolution of the US Mexico and New Mexico's borders through the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. The third map meticulously illustrates Native American pre-contact locations and language in the same territory. The three maps together offer a compelling perspective on the region's rich and contested history.
The exhibit was curated by Marcy Botwick, with contributions and assistance from Monica Dorame, Jennifer Eggleston, Cheyenne Stradinger, Katherine Massoth, and Portia Vescio. The exhibit was truly a cross departmental effort and is part of the University Libraries' commitment to fostering dynamic and engaged exploration and scholarship. Borders: Created, Contested & Imagined, promises to be an intellectually stimulating experience that aligns with the University Libraries' mission to provide a diverse and enriching learning environment.
An online guide to the exhibition can be found at https://goto.unm.edu/zec60.