La Antigua: Mapping Religion
This map reminds me of the ones we saw in class where they only drew the churches. It also sketches important figures on the bottom–famous Antiguans–and in the lower right–the cucuruchos who carry the processional floats each year during La Semana Santa. It also draws certain statues amusingly out of proportion in order to emphasize them. The only difference would have to be the gridded roads. Except the maps we saw in class were from the 1500s, and this is from August 2006. Literally 3/4 of the attractions are churches, convents, or monasteries. This map is obviously trying to use the draw of history and religion for tourism purposes. It enlarges all the churches, hotels (Las Casas), and major statues, and on the bottom lists all the processions during the Semana Santa parade, which are the primary source of tourism to Antigua. Most of the buildings have dates listed on them, showing pride in their antiquity (there is also a little historical sidebar on the left that goes back to the colonial period.) Also to the left of the “Antigua” sign is a bag of coffee, which is the second largest source of income in La Antigua, and may be interesting to tourists as well.
If we think about maps as a way of shaping information, it is clear by the building displays, the advertisements, and the informational bits what the creators of this map want you to see. Also important, though, is what they don’t want you to see. Everything between the buildings is a patch of red–does this reflect the color of the buildings? or is it just an arbitrary neutral color? It highly downplays the attraction of the common people, who make up as much of Antigua’s culture as the religion. Also, (this may be overspeculating), but there is no mention of the volcanoes that are so important to Antigua’s landscape. Many tourists come to climb the volcanoes as well, so it is interesting that they are excluded from the map. As Anna mentioned, this map was made recently after a volcanic eruption, which led to an increase of tourism to the area. However, religion still holds hegemony over tourism in Antigua.
I think this map suggests that Catholicism in Antigua has become more of a show than a meaningful religion. It is not only one of the major attractions, it is the major attraction. If your church and your religious year’s most important celebration is swamped with people who are not necessarily part of the religious community, but want to “check it out”, doesn’t it devalue your sense of what these rituals mean? Catholicism then becomes very public, instead of remaining the personal experience it is meant to be.