Children's Maps of the American Empire: In Special Conversation

Children's Maps of the American Empire: In Special Conversation

M. BUNA: Socializing turn-of-the-century American children into the ways of the empire relied on employing “home geography” as a pedagogical tool to underline 

the comfort and “civilization” of familiar spaces, as opposed to colonized or racialized ones. In Citizens and Rulers of the World, you contend that 

far from being mere performers of adults’ scripts, “turn-of-the-century American children consumed geographic knowledge and produced spatial 

narratives and cognitive maps of their own.” What were the marks of the cartography they envisioned in response to inherited maps drawn by the imperial pedagogy of the colonizing machine 

Growing up at the turn of the 20th century, for many American children, also meant learning to view the world through the lens of “home geography. 

While “home geography” had originally been developed in the earlier decades of the 19th century as a pedagogical method that promoted and prioritized a localized 

approach in school geography lessons, its late-19th-century drafts were a product of, but also in conversation with, a starkly different moment in US national history. 

As professional geographers such as William Morris Davis, Richard Elwood Dodge, and Clara Barbara Kirchwey re-popularized the method, they inevitably responded to  

the transnational whims of an empire that had stretched its dominion across the globe. Therefore, the drafts of “home geography” that I study in my book scripted far messier lessons in world geography as they recorded