Today, 12.01.2011, is the second anniversary of my Mapping Stereotypes project. It started with this tiny map published exactly two years ago. At the time I had absolutely no clue it’s going to become this ridiculously popular. And for a very long time I wasn’t really comfortable with its success. I just assumed prejudices aren’t something particularly shocking to deserve all this intense interest. When I was about to give my first interview about the project, I honestly didn’t know what to say. Then I realized people often omit the fact that stereotyping is a two-way process. And because my maps depicted several different points of view, the amalgam brought something truly unique to the surface.
Look at the “wonderful” historical dynamism between Britain and France, countries that have so much in common but who still look at each other as if the strip of water between them is as big as the Pacific. And they are just the first handy example that comes to my mind. In many other places, like the Balkans, stereotypes are even harsher and often burst into total misunderstandings and animosities. It’s a pitiful irony that in the 21st century, national stereotypes are still that resonant. Moreover, I see people around me getting more prejudiced than ever, which points to another human trait – in times of crisis we always succumb to the instinct to put all the blame on our immediate neighbors.
So that’s how I realized this project was really important. And I’m not stopping. Hopefully in 2011 I will manage to wrap it up in a book and I have a list of several maps I need to finish. I want to thank everybody who took the time to write to me, I did (and still do) my best to answer every letter, even the bitter ones that blame me of being an imperialistic bastard. :) Thankfully they are only a handful out of thousands. It’s a very comforting fact that the majority of my public knows how to laugh.