Archipelagic American Studies
Islands of Resistance
This chapter argues that a spatial paradigm shift that occurred in the 1940s, imagining a break with the long-accepted Mercator projection, had a significant bearing on the African American planetary imaginary. Mercator’s map rapidly lost its narrative power during World War II. Instead, an innovative cartography adopting an aerial perspective—popularized by Richard Edes Harrison’s “One World, One War” map, drawn in an azimuthal projection centered on the North Pole—represented the United States’ fresh world outlook. It ushered in “air-age globalism.” This chapter asks what is enabled by critical inquiry into such paradigm shifts. By examining the air travels of Walter White, writer and executive secretary of the NAACP, who navigated this changing spatial context, it seeks to advance “the archipelagic black global imaginary” produced by White as the air age shaped not only the conduct of the wars but also the structure and horizons of black experience.