A historical and war cartography for national identity in Eritrea
AbstractThis contribution proposes an examination of the symbolism of some war maps to be found in the Northern Red Sea Regional Museum of Massawa, in Eritrea. The Museum, built for the 10th anniversary of independence, shows the main symbols of Eritrean national identity and the maps assume a key-role in such exposition, since they reproduce the winning battles of Eritrea against Ethiopia fought right in Massawa. The first part of the article is about the main concepts on the different functions of the maps, seen not only as instruments for the fighting of battles and for other practical reasons, but even as a symbolism of a common national feeling: in the proposed case, the maps are shown at the entrance and in the last section of the Museum, assuming great relevance in the nationalistic purposes of the Museum. Then, a short assay of the Eritrean history during the struggle for independence is directly linked with the war maps analyzed. Particular attention will be paid to the map of the “Operation Inner Massawa” of 15 February 1990, which greatly contributed to the final victory. In conclusion, some geographical considerations are proposed on the strategic position of Eritrea and Massawa, the significance of the maps during the war and for the future generations, and the consequences of the war on the social situation today.
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