Ukraine vs. USA in carto-caricatures

A member of the Washington Map Society recently shared this cartoon map (carto-caricature!) from The Independent (UK), including this commentary:

Francis Herbert [wrote]: “In The Independent (London) of today (Tuesday) 18 March 2014, is a politically [un-]correct [?] cartographic cartoon by a regular contributing artist, Dave Brown. For those familiar with the term, it is of ‘The Russian Bear’ type, showing a ferociously hungry bear’s open salivating jaw about to snap up a red (bloody?)-coloured Crimean peninsula. The map extends across the states of the northern Black Sea (including an insular Moldova) area.”

Here is the cartoon, with three others that popped up in my search:


From The Independent.


The Russian bear is a long standing, popular trope, as this cartoon from The Red Phoenix demonstrates. (These are just two of many cartoons to use the Russian bear.)


An unattractive troll-goalie-Putin, again from The Independent.


An abstract representation on the consumption of territory, again from The Independent.

On Facebook, EZH posted an interesting article from CBC News, “The Ukraine crisis through the whimsy of international law,” which reads, in part (at the beginning part, enticing you to read more, no?):

Listening to U.S. President Barack Obama bang on this week about the importance of world opinion and obeying international law and respecting sovereignty and being on the right side of history, you had to wonder whether he didn’t have a little voice in his head whispering: “Really? Seriously? I’m actually saying this stuff?”

This is the commander-in-chief of a military that operates a prison camp on Cuban soil, against the explicit wishes of the Cuban government, and which regularly fires drone missiles into other countries, often killing innocent bystanders.

He is a president who ordered that CIA torturers would go unprosecuted, and leads a nation that has invaded other countries whenever it wished, regardless of what the rest of the world might think.

This immediately brought to mind some on-topic carto-carictures (the first from 2014, the second from 2009):


This image by Ted Rall is relevant to my research area because of its depiction of territory and territorial appropriation. The entire map could be white and say “Stolen from Indigenous Peoples,” and the caricature of US President Barack Obama calls for a critique of racism (links to the most extensive piece that I found on the topic over at the Daily Kos). There are layers of deconstruction possible for each part of the image, and I’m sharing it here primarily because of the territorial representation, but despite this focus, I don’t want to ignore the radicalized (EDIT: should read “racialized,” but auto-correct has its own spelling ideas!) representation of Obama.

D09510_3600 copyThe caricatured person here in this cartoon is Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, current Prime Minister of Israel. Again, I am setting aside discussions of racialized depictions of Netanyahu to focus on the depiction of land and territory, but this conversation is happening.

And just so we’re not letting Canada off the hook, here’s Everett Soop’s commentary:

SOOP m-9028-63a_141He is referring to the genocide of the Beothuk people:

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.52.15 PM

Here, I’ll recommend additional reading on the role of maps in Indigenous land claims in Canada.

Lots to consider regarding the daily implications of geo-politics, representation, and sovereignty.

UPDATE: Here are two more carto-caricatures of Ukraine from Graeme Mackay.

Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator, 4 March 2014

Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator, 4 March 2014

Tuesday March 25, 2014

Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator, 25 March 2014

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2 Responses to Ukraine vs. USA in carto-caricatures

  1. Ted Rall says:

    How interesting that the caricature of Vladimir Putin is described as “unattractive,” whereas the depiction of Obama is “racial” and “radicalized.”

    One of the downsides of having the first African-American president is that it becomes open season for visual satirists to make fun of him, including depicting him as an ugly guy. Seems to me that you may want to reconsider whether your analysis is based on anything other than to garden-variety political correctness.

    PS it’s subsequently came to light after the discussion at Daily Kos that my cartoons were targeted, not because they were racist or depicted the president in an offensive manner – the same exact way I have been trying him since 2008 – but because the site is dominated by militant Democratic operatives who wage smear campaigns against his critics, especially those who attack him from his left flank, as I do. In short: don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

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