The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Woodard flunks American geography

I checked out Colin Woodard's American Nations when it came out and even then, found it too tendentious by half to be a guide to modern America. The present election has offered a test for its thesis. Anatoly Karlin today finds it works for New England and "Left Coast" / "Ecotopia"; the Caribbean and New France are marginal and moot; the rest fails. Because Woodard's map of the heartland is outdated by at least 150 years.

Karlin proposes a return to Joel Garreau, The Nine Nations of North America (1981). Garreau's map is similar in parts - namely the Caribbean, New France and Ecotopia. The greater New England, which did exist in the 1850s, is now missing its entire colony west of the Hudson which Garreau labels "The Foundry". Garreau gifts the "Midlands" with once-Yankee Minnesota and labels it all "The Breadbasket". Garreau pulls El Norte over a lot more California and Arizona. Another difference is Garreau doesn't break up Dixie into "Tidewater" and "Appalachia" - again, these regions did exist in the 1850s.

One niggle with Garreau, which I think Woodard got right, is that Garreau expands the Breadbasket / Midlands west into the great American desert all the way to Denver. Pardon, monsieur; I've been through eastern Colorado. It is Empty Quarter. I also side with Woodard that New Orleans's coast is still New France - yeah, been there too. And a pox on both cartographers for ignoring Deseret; here I side with Karlin.

Otherwise it's hard to dispute Karlin's proof of Garreau's hypothesis.

So why did Woodard get the heartland so wrong? Partly it's reliance on Albions-Seed theory, but mainly I suspect wish-fulfillment. He wants the Foundry to still be New England West. He wants Dixie to be divided. As for his Midlands, he has gerrymandered it so badly I suspect he doesn't even want it to exist.

posted by Zimri on 13:41 | link | 0 comments

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