In the early 1950s, the American Geographical Society, in collaboration with the United States Armed Forces and international pharmaceutical corporations, instituted a Medical Geography program whose main initiative was the Atlas of Disease, a map series that documented the global spread of various afflictions such as polio, malaria, even starvation. The Atlas of Disease, through the stewardship of its director, Jacques May, a French-American physician trained in colonial Hanoi, evidenced the ways in which cartography was rhetorically appropriated in the Cold War as a powerful visual discourse of development and modernization, wherein both the data content of the maps and their stylistic forms collaborated to produce a compelling division between the so-called First and Third Worlds. In addition, the atlas’ connections between the academic knowledge production of the AGS, the national security interests of the US government, and the market building of the medical industry displayed the ways in which development was a multi-layered and essentially spatialized discourse of American power and ideology.

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Copyright © 2014 Routledge. Article first published online March 26, 2014

The definitive version is available at:

DOI: 10.1080/00335630.2014.887215

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Barney, Timothy. "Diagnosing the Third World: The 'Map Doctor' and the Spatialized Discourses of Disease and Development in the Cold War." Quarterly Journal of Speech 100, no. 1 (2014): 1-30. doi:10.1080/00335630.2014.887215.