Monday, 20 September 2010

Mapping Stereotypes

Today the Telegraph introduced me to the work of Yanko Tsvetkov. Yanko is a London-based Bulgarian who describes himself on his website as a 'graphic designer slash visual artist'. He has produced a series of maps of Europe that label countries by the perceived stereotypes of one of the member states. Being English I was naturally interested in 'Europe According to Britain'. I think the concept is great but either my stereotypes are not representative or he's a little off. For example, I've never been to Iceland, although I have long wanted to, but I have been to Vegas; I don't think I've ever confused the two. I also recently argued, during a trip to neighbouring Finland, for the strength of Sweden's pop output. (They are one of only three countries that exports more pop music than they import, the US and the UK being the other two.) What really surprised me, though, was to see the Western Balkans clumped together under 'uncharted'. Perhaps the countries ended up too small for Yanko to individually tag them. Perhaps, though, he has hit on something. Living in Bosnia and Herzegovina it is easy to feel like you fell off the edge of the map, at least as far as news coverage from British new sources is concerned. (The BBC covered the build up to Bosnia and Herzegovina's clash against a shaky looking French side in the Euro 2012 qualifiers but didn't follow through to report the news that they sadly lost the game 2-0.)


Still, for all the grumbling about lack of attention, it's nice to live in a beautiful part of the world that isn't over-run by 'Brits on tour'! I remember trips to southern Spain where it was unquestionably embarrassing to be English. Here much of the country is still unspoilt by tourism. Things are changing fast and how long it stays that way is anyone's guess but we'll certainly enjoy it while it lasts. The country could certainly use the income and investment an increase in tourism would bring.


'Europe According to USA' was, of course, brasher than all the other maps. (We are talking stereotypes here, right?!) It was probably the funniest too. That is, apart from its treatment of the Western Balkans. Take 'Smelly People' or 'Godfathers' and I can see where he's coming from but 'Resident Evil'? Then again, I'm not American...but neither is he!

2 comments:

PantsWithNames said...

These maps do make me laugh. I've got a few more lurking in my email somewhere if you want to see some.

How are the election build ups going? Hope you had an enjoyable summer!

WeDoAdventure said...

Send away - I'm always up for geo-political/cross-cultural laughs!

Summer's just about hanging on in Mostar. It has been a good time. We will move in a couple of weeks and we'll be straight into winter then.

Mostar is littered with political posters right now which are getting 'customised' by often insightful graffiti.