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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 interplay between maps, mapmakers and the societies they seek to represent in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. The display includes complex U.S. government maps shaped by teams of specially trained scientists and simple sketches from legal disputes. The maps vary in age — the oldest is from the sixteenth century and the newest was printed in 2022. There are commercially printed maps, crafted by and for visitors to lands foreign to them. Several maps reflect 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 and mapmakers are more than scientists. Mapmakers can be artists, trained cartographers or everyday people, are they are influenced by many factors as they document roads, routes, and geography. 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. 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 awould like to see them in person, you can find their location by clicking the vlue information icon in the text below the object. Appointments are recommended to visit our special libraries and archives collections. 

Center for Southwest Research 

Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC)

UNM Government Information & Federal Regional Repository