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Friday, October 19 • 4:00pm - 5:20pm
Road Trip NACIS

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Cartography, Identity, Geopolitics, and License Plates
Presenter: Jonathan Leib, Old Dominion University
In the automobile era, one of the most visible expressions of a person’s place of residence is found on the license plate attached to their vehicle. Governments have played a major role in regulating automobility, both in controlling the actions of drivers and shaping national identities. One way this has been done has been through the use of pictures and symbols (including maps) on license plates representing their states. This exploratory research presentation focuses on the use of maps on license plates as ways of advancing, reinforcing, and contesting national identity and promoting geopolitical agendas.

Toponymic Tags
Presenter: Scott Zillmer, National Geographic
This talk will discuss the intersection of my career as a map editor with my personal hobby of license plate collecting. I will include a fun, light-hearted show-and-tell session of some of the plates in my collection. My basement is home to hundreds of real, used license plates with two things in common: 1) they’re all vanity plates, and 2) they all feature place-names. Subcategories include plates featuring country names, city names, and island names. There’s even a complete set of U.S. state-name vanities. It is a unique and somewhat twisted (and often misunderstood) theme amongst plate collectors.

Maps on the Landscape: The Case of Welcome Signs
Presenter: Donald Zeigler, Old Dominion University
Maps have insinuated themselves into the nooks and crannies of our cultural landscapes. That includes their use on the signs which American states and localities erect to say “Welcome.” Using photographic documents collected over four decades of landscape-loving, the form and function of welcome-sign maps will be addressed and interpreted. These maps and map-like images are used to make good first impressions, to mark territory, to orient and acclimate, to cultivate pride, to promote branding, and to improve the economic base. In general, they provide niches for the genius loci with whom we share the planet.


Jonathan Leib

Old Dominion University

Donald Zeigler

Old Dominion University

Scott Zillmer

National Geographic

Friday October 19, 2018 4:00pm - 5:20pm EDT
Hampton VI-VII