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Borders: Created, Contested and Imagined: Home

An on-line exhibit based on Borders: Created, Contested and Imagined, a map exhibition in Zimmerman Library on display in 2024.

How do we represent geographic space?

Borders: Created, Contested and Imagined explores the dynamic interplay between maps, mapmakers and the societies they seek to represent. The exhibit displays a wide range of maps each with multiple and overlapping perspectives of the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. The display includes complex U.S. government maps shaped by teams of specially trained scientists as well as simple sketches created during legal disputes. There are commercially printed maps, crafted by and for visitors to lands foreign to them. The maps vary in age — the oldest is from the sixteenth century and the newest was printed in 2022. Several maps reflect aspects of the historical and ongoing fight for native sovereignty across the present-day United States. Curated into four groups — Before Borders, Borders Created, Borders Contested and Borders Imagined — this exhibit offers a fresh perspective on the rich and contested history of the U.S. southwestern borderlands. 

Maps are more than simple navigational or scientific tools. Mapmakers, who can be artists, trained cartographers or everyday people, are influenced by many factors as they document roads, routes, and myriad geographic features. Those who make maps highlight information most relevant to their purpose and omit other details about the land they record. In this way, maps intentionally and unintentionally, reveal social dynamics equally as much as geographic formations. 


More maps

The Borders Exhibit was created to share some of the very special maps in the University of New Mexico's Special Collections. Each map or picture can be viewed in more detail by clicking on the image. All of the original maps are held in one of our three special collections - the Center for Southwest Research, The Map and Geographic Information Center, and the UNM Federal Depository. If you are interested in viewing them in person, their location can be found by clicking the information icon in the text below the object. Appointments are recommended to visit our special libraries and archives to view these items or any of the other unique maps, documents, books and other objects that can be found in their collections. 

Center for Southwest Research 

Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC)

UNM Government Information & Federal Regional Repository