A Historical Timeline of the Peters Map (& ODT’s involvement with it)
BACKGROUND ON THE MAN:
Arno Peters, born in Berlin, Germany on May 22, 1916, began his career as a filmmaker. He studied American techniques of filmmaking during the late 1930s and helped to revolutionize film production in Germany. In 1945, he received his doctorate at the University of Berlin, writing his dissertation on the power of filmmaking to influence political propaganda. Peters worked as a private scholar his entire professional life. In 1974 he co-founded the Institut für Universalgeschichte (Institute for Universal History) in Bremen, of which he became head and where he worked on both his historical and geographical cartographical presentations and his theories of history (see next section). He was awarded an honorary professorship from the University of Bremen and received many other accolades. For his entire life, he was a tireless advocate for social justice, and the “equality of all peoples,” which is reflected in his Peters map and world history work. He died in Bremen German on December 2, 2002. Obituary from London Times is at: http://www.yusthaus.com/petersmap/History/Obituary.html A photo-biography was assembled by ODT after Peters’ death and is available at: http://odtmaps.com/behind_the_maps/peters_maps/peters-album.asp
Arno Peters’ Driving Principles
Peters contended that people's perceptions of the world suffered from geographic distortion as well as from historical skewing. While creating his world history volume(s), Synchronoptische Weltgeschichte, visually outlining 5,000 years of human history, Peters was dismayed to find that many of the cultures of the world that had reached their peaks in earlier centuries were relegated to the bottom third of most maps, and compressed into an area that was far smaller than their actual size. He criticized the widespread use of the Mercator map, often uncritically assumed to be "the truth" and lobbied long and hard for its replacement with his "new" equal area creation -- the Peters Map. Like the racist regime of the Nazis, the Mercator projection map offended Peters’ sense of fairness to all peoples. Finding no satisfactory alternative to the Mercator, Peters set about creating his own map which he laboriously undertook by hand, over many years.
Introduction of The Peters World Map - 1974:
Arno Peters introduced the Peters map at a press conference in Bonn, Germany in 1974. The first English language version was published in 1983.
See the map at: http://odtmaps.com/detail.asp?product_id=Pet-Wall-35x50&Contents=TAB2
It was published in English by a consortium of faith-based, and social justice organizations, including: Friendship Press, World Council of Churches. New Internationalist magazine, the United Nations UNDP, UNICEF, United Church of Canada, Lutheran Church in America, National Council of Churches, Mennonite Central Committee, Christian Aid, and Oxfam World Relief organization. These early adopters found the politics and the values of the Peters Map consistent with their goals and mission. The map became popular in faith-based mission education work.
See: "A Christian World View" at the Global Mission Education Conference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kc0GSG_fZfI
and the history of that work by the man who introduced the Peters map to North America at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9tEI55GxY0
The broader world was divided into two opposing camps the pro-Peters and the anti-Peters. A chart of comments from the supporters – as well as the critics – can be seen at these two URLS:
http://odt.org/images/Controversy%20table.doc (as a downloadable WORD document)
or as a JPG here:
These comments are also summarized on pages 54 & 55 of Ward Kaiser’s How Maps Change Things (2013) http://odtmaps.com/detail.asp_Q_product_id_E_howmapschangethings
ODTmaps.com Discovers the Peters Map - 1985
In 1985 ODT’s founding mother, visionary and product development director, was Diane Johns. In the process of designing several diversity and leadership curricula, she came across the Peters Map, which was at that time published by Friendship Press in NY. She was the person first to see the connection between that new world map and much of the consciousness-raising that ODT was doing via employee-empowerment, diversity, and corporate culture change programs. Diane’s work was instrumental in introducing the Peters Map into the world of corporate and association training. Other ODT associates, particularly Dianne LaMountain and Bob Abramms began to use the map as an “unfreezing” tool for large audiences at national and international Human Resource Development and Training Conferences (A.S.T.D., S.H.R.M., S,I.E.T.A.R., Training Magazine, etc). Many other larger training corporations soon followed ODT’s lead, and Wilson Learning Corporation as well as the Forum Corporation successfully implemented the Peters Map into curriculum design for corporate audiences. Soon thereafter began the shift from ODT’s work in management training and consulting field to becoming a purveyor of world map images that shifted how people view their world. Within the next 15 years, ODT would become the exclusive publisher and distributor for the Peters Map in North America, as well as a series of other mind-altering images (see - http://odtmaps.com/maps.188.8.131.52.htm ).
The Controversy - Summarized In 1994:
Never before had a method of map projection generated such interest…as well as antagonism. In fact, the controversy was so widespread that cartographic historian, Jeremy Crampton (currently Associate Professor of Geography, University of Kentucky), documented it in his article titled “Cartography’s Defining Moment: The Peters Projection Controversy, 1974-1990,” published in Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization (1994).
Arno Peters tried to stay above the fray, and tended to avoid responding directly to his critics. He let his map speak for itself, which sold 53 million copies worldwide within 20 years of its initial publication, as well as earning a strong following of supporters among progressive social justice, faith-based, and philanthropic organizations. In Peters’ own words, “…public discussion was such as had not been known in the history of cartography. I attribute this to the fact that the debate over my map was in reality not a struggle about a projection as such but about a world picture. Clearly, ideology had entered the struggle.” (from Arno Peters’ letter to Ward Kaiser. Quoted in A New View of the World, p. 2)
ODTmaps.com - Re-positioning of the Peters Map –
January 2001 In the late 1990s Friendship Press, the USA publisher of the map, faced financial challenges, a reflection of the difficulties in the publishing industry as a whole. ODTmaps took over publication of the Peters Map from the faith-based Press in early 2001. ODT was a pioneer in the use of the Peters map in corporate training programs related to management development, corporate culture change, leadership, diversity, and employee empowerment. ODT was the first company to run public seminars as well as corporate and association in-house programs on “how to manage your boss,” “how to receive a performance appraisal,” “how to receive a delegated assignment,” and “how to increase your personal power.”
ODT’s primary educational mission was to encourage thinking “outside the box” and to stretch self-limiting thinking about personal power and influence. As the faith-based market for the Peters map waned, the corporate, association, and public school markets for the map expanded significantly. Further, a burgeoning new field began to emerge -- media literacy (see below) which found the Peters Map to be a poster child - a single image that could help deconstruct conventional world views and broaden the popular understanding about how framing a problem in a particular context led to a favoured result. In 2001, when ODTmaps took over publication of the Peters Map, there was still much hostility from the cartographic establishment, ODT undertook an effort to describe the map in a way quite different from the “anti-colonialist” and “anti-imperialist” message that Arno Peters had flaunted in the face of his critics inside the cartographic establishment. ODT also ratcheted back some of the dubious cartographic claims of a “superior world map” and “a world map to supplant all other world maps.”
The 2001 Peters Map which ODT published had revamped thumbnail panels at the bottom, only two of which were devoted to highlighting the flaws of the Mercator projection (there were 7 thumbnail panels berating the Mercator on Arno Peters’ original map) and ODT softened the claims made on the explanatory panel published down the right side of the map. In the true tradition of other breakthrough maps (including the 1569 map by Gerardus Mercator) the Peters Map consciously posted its purpose on the face of the map. Arno Peters went further than previous cartographic innovators by prominently explaining the underlying value system on the face of the map.
At the initial publication for North America in 1983, the right side of the map provided an explanation & rationale behind this new view of the world - - a post-colonial view of the world. Originally, there were four points that were made as part of the sidebar text. Several of these points incensed the cartographic community as Peters called conventional cartographic establishment to task for supporting and reinforcing the colonialist / imperialist power structure. Peters also made claims that some cartographers felt were dubious at best, and potentially misleading. (The original map panel is available from ODT at no charge, if you request one with your order). See Arno Peters explain his map, as well as brief comments by cartographic experts like Denis Wood at www.youtube.com/watch?v=osQN7aSQV9w
Facing a long history of antagonism from the cartographic establishment, ODT set about to “mend fences” and de-fang the Peters Map critics by positioning the Peters Map as one of many useful ways to see the world. ODTmaps also re-wrote the supplementary explanation that was packaged with the map. ODT produced an educational DVD, in 2001, Many Ways to See the World, which introduced 12 world map images to viewers. The DVD was adopted by many university teachers, and endorsed and hosted by Earth Day Network TV where it is available free for on-line viewing at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmfglsniX_k
Map History On WEST WING - Feb 28, 2001 – with a South-up Peters Map
Aaron Sorkin’s hit television show, The West Wing, featured the Peters Map in Season 2, Episode 16 - Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail. This broadcast has often been referred to as the best episode of West Wing to ever air. In the episode there was a fictional "Big Block of Cheese Day” in which a fictional group of “Cartographers for Social Equality” re-educates members of the president’s staff on their perceptions of the globe by lobbying for support for the Peters Map to be used in every public school classroom in the USA. Overnight, the sales of the Peters Map increased by twenty-fold.
Watch the clip of the episode at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8zBC2dvERM
See ODT’s press release about the event at
Arno Peters was reluctant to permit his map to be published with the south-on-top orientation, as he did not want the map to be a joke, or novelty item. He barely allowed NBC TV to use the image on West Wing, but ODT was able to persuade him that this would be a terrific opportunity. ODTmaps also does publish other equal area maps (and some not-so-equal-area) with south-on-top at http://odtmaps.com/south-up-world-maps.184.108.40.206.htm After the West Wing episode aired, there was a huge demand for a south-up equal area map….and ODT maps published (soon thereafter) a NEW equal area map – the Hobo-Dyer http://odtmaps.com/hobo-dyer-equal-area-maps.220.127.116.11.htm in order to meet this need.
See the history of the Hobo-Dyer projection at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobo-Dyer_projection or at http://odtmaps.com/behind_the_maps/ (scroll to 4th map down the page). There are also other south-up maps available at http://odtmaps.com/south-up-world-maps.18.104.22.168.htm including the classic McArthur Universal Corrective Map of the World http://odtmaps.com/detail.asp_Q_product_id_E_McA-23x35
There is a video clip about the McArthur Map at
Arno Peters Grants Interviews for ODT Documentary – October 2001
Bob Abramms, founder of ODT, along with his videographer mother, Ruth Abrams, had planned to go to Bremen, Germany for several years in order to interview Arno Peters, who had never been interviewed in English, and who had faced several health challenges before and after 2000. A translator was hired for the meeting to take place in October 2001. On the way to Bremen, Bob and Ruth had flown to the UK to interview other the key players in the publication of the English version of the Peters map - New Internationalist (NI) magazine in Oxfordshire and Oxford Cartographers (OC) in Oxford, UK. Meetings and interviews were conducted with Terry Hardaker and Penny Watson of OC, and also with Dexter Tiranti, James Rowland and others at NI . Other participants in the Bremen meetings were also attended by Ward Kaiser (the former executive director of Friendship Press and a close friend of Peters), Terry Hardaker, (chief cartographer at Oxford Cartographers, the company that refined the map for Peters), Andreas Kaiser (then the administrator in charge of publishing the map under the corporate entity of Akademische Verlagsanstalt. Five days of interviews, meetings, and filming took place at the Peters home. As it turned out, the translator was not necessary as Arno Peters’ command of English was quite good. Videographer Ruth Abrams had over 40 hours of film by the end of the trip.
At the trip’s end, Arno Peters and ODT’s Abramms signed a distribution agreement conferring licensing rights to the Peters Map to ODT for the territory of North America. Back in the USA the former publisher, Friendship Press, liquidated its distribution center and all of the remaining Peters Map inventory was purchased by ODT.
Arno Peters, 87, was hale and hearty at his interviews in Bremen in October, swimming many laps in his pool with Ruth Abrams on several mornings of the visit. Arno’s health declined soon after the visit was over. He died 14 months later on December 2, 2002.
Cartography, The Peters Map And Media Literacy
The burgeoning new field of Media Literacy teaches student to de-construct the hidden messages behind images, advertising, and political propaganda. Many Media Literacy organizations have found the Peters Map to be an excellent tool, discussion starter, and catalyst for helping students develop critical thinking skills. Included among them are:
Reach & Teach https://www.reachandteach.com/store/index.php?l=product_detail&p=495 Center for Media Literacy - http://www.medialit.org/
Rethinking Schools www.rethinkingschools.org/publication/math/mercatorMapProject.pdf
Project Look Sharp
See also: http://livelearnevolve.com/peters-projection-world-map/
Third World Newsreel -http://www.twn.org/catalog/pages/cpage.aspx?rec=1232&card=price
Maps are never simply objective, scientific, utterly reliable statements of "truth" -- they have an agenda, a purpose, a reason or an argument that the mapmaker wishes to promote. To describe that agenda as being political or cultural or ideological or practical does not alter the essential reality: the map has a purpose.
ODT’s 30-min documentary about Arno Peters, Arno Peters: Radical Map, Remarkable Man, will be available for viewing on the Earth Day Network TV YouTube channel later this year. Email ODTstore@odt.org for a link. ODTmaps also provides complimentary DVDs to organizations who commit to holding public screenings of the film: for info go to http://arnopeters.bravenewtheaters.com/
The 2006 version of the Peters' Map
In 2006 ODTmaps made dramatic changes in the supplemental text including informative panels that present other perspectives, and other maps that explain, rather than demonize the traditional Mercator Map. The new thumbnail images of other equal area maps at the bottom of the Peters Map include the Waterman Butterfly and the Hobo-Dyer Projection. A range of perspectives is also emphasized, such as the familiar images of Goode’s Homolosine and the Winkel Tripel compromise projection. Len Guelke’s ground-breaking Chicago-centered Azimuthal equal area projection was also included. The 2006 edition of the Peters Map also included web references, brighter colors, and upgraded paper stock.
Since its introduction, the Peters Map has attracted worldwide press coverage and has garnered more attention than any other map in history. One of the harshest critics of the Peters Map in the past has been Professor Mark Monmonier of Syracuse University. Upon seeing the revised 2006 version of the map, Monmonier said, “ODT's addition of thoughtfully annotated examples of diverse map projections provides a cartographic context for the Peters Map and enhances its value as a geographic reference tool.”
The 2014 Version of the Peters Map (available July, 2014)
The 2014 Peters wall map offers a 30% larger map image and has omitted the text panel (which was originally quite inflammatory in 1983) on the right side of the map. The 2014 updated Peters map comes with all the cartographic changes since 2007, including Kosovo and South Sudan, plus showing the dramatic shrinkage by 90 percent in the size of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
(see http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/infopage/aralsea.htm ).
ODT also had Oxford Cartographers include an innovative areal scale in the map legend for the first time (along with omitting the equatorial scale which was of little use or interest to anyone but professional cartographers). The areal scale allows for calculation and comparison of surface area (on land or sea) which are to scale on all areas of the map, the Peters Map’s “claim to fame.”
With the introduction of the 2014 Peters map ODT Maps has taken the next step forward. ODT's president and chief financial officer, Howard Bronstein, says "the world has changed, and it was time for the Peters map we publish to reflect that. Arno Peters launched his map 40 years ago in the world that was only recently the colonized. In the 1970s newly independent nations needed and wanted a map provided an accurate context for their people who have been marginalized and oppressed by colonial masters, whether British, Spanish, French, or Portuguese. Schoolchildren in the 1970s (whether in the first world or among developing nations) needed an awareness of that sea change in world view."
The 2014 Peters Map will be available in both paper/folded and laminated formats, and also can be custom produced in sizes up to 30 feet wide. For example, Global Citizens Network commissioned a 16-foot wide Peters Map for their conference room http://volunteerinternational.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/global-citizens-network-highlighted-in-upcoming-book/
ODT’s ordering page for the map is at: http://manywaystoseetheworld.org/collections/peters-projection-map/products/peters-oversize
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