Mapping Black Central Europe

Image of a map of Black Central Europe, showing people and things of interest.

Image of a map of Black Central Europe created by the class Germany and the Black Diaspora at the University of Michigan, showing people and things of interest.

The University of Michigan class "Germany and the Black Diaspora," taught by Professor Kira Thurman, worked over the course of the Winter 2016 semester to create a map of Black Central Europe. Each student identified important figures, events or objects to research and create pins for; the pins were then combined into one, larger map. A central theme guided the class: "making the invisible visible." 

Justin Joque and I held a workshop for the class in the library to get them started using CartoDB to make the map, as well as how to best structure their data for mapping and visualization. CartoDB is a web-based mapping tool to visualize and analyze spatial data. 

Blake and Joque teaching mapping to the class "Germany and the Blake Diaspora" in a library classroom.
Students in "Germany and the Black Diaspora" learning about mapping with Blake and Joque. Photo credit: Gregory Parker. 

Over the course of the semester, each student in the class individually created pins for the map featuring important figures, objects, or events. Professor Thurman then combined all of the pins into one larger map. The map allows interaction; when one clicks a pin, they can ready more information about it. 

Display of pop up text of map pin for Afro-German author Anne Chebu.
Clicking on this pin shows how to interact with the map to learn more. Image credit: Kira Thurman.

The map is featured on the site Black Central Europe, a site dedicated to the work of a "network of artists, activists, and scholars."