Teaching online with Jorge Luis Borges

This week, students in my online class learnt about the fallibility of maps and cartographers, who as one astute student said, contributed to the “zombiefication of history”. The mis-reading of primary source leads to historical mis-interpretations, and if those aren’t challenged, zombie histories start roaming the world.

This week I stumbled across a website with a recording of Jorge Luis Borges reading his one-paragraph short story about the excess of an empire’s cartographers who were so dedicated to mapping the entire empire they made a map as big as the empire. I had never heard this recording, which adds a layer to my experience of this text. There are many ways of reading this single paragraph story, but it has always haunted my reading of colonial Latin American maps.

You can read a translation of the story here.

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