Mapping Ethnicity: Color Use in Depicting Ethnic Distribution


  • Jenny Marie Johnson



Maps are made for a specific purpose, or set of purposes. No individual cartographer or cartography-producing organization produces a map just for the sake of producing a map. People and organizations have agendas; maps tell stories. Map stories are told through symbols and colors. Colors have meaning. Perhaps color choice is intended to indicate an organization’s attitudes toward the phenomena being mapped. Color on maps of ethnic groups can be evaluated inter-textually by placing the maps into the context of their producers and the time of their production. The colors, and their meanings, that are used to represent particular groups will reflect the map producer’s attitudes toward the ethnic groups. If these attitudes are unknown, they could be hypothesized by evaluating color usage. Color choices may act as indicators of opinions otherwise unexpressed.




How to Cite

Johnson, J. M. (2001). Mapping Ethnicity: Color Use in Depicting Ethnic Distribution. Cartographic Perspectives, (40), 12–31.



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