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Stephen Hanna - University of Mary Washington. Fredericksburg, VA, US

Stephen Hanna Stephen Hanna

Professor of Geography | University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, VA, UNITED STATES

Dr. Hanna's research in cultural geography explores how our pasts are represented in monuments and museums.




Stephen Hanna Publication Stephen Hanna Publication



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Every Southern plantation has a story to tell. In his work chronicling how slavery has been incorporated into the U.S. commemorative landscape, University of Mary Washington Professor of Geography Stephen P. Hanna taps into missing antebellum and Civil War-era narratives.

Also an expert on cartography and critical applications of GIS, Dr. Hanna, a human geographer by training, is interested in the economic and cultural characteristics of places within the global economy.

He has used maps to study election outcomes; his columns analyzing regional, state and national elections have appeared in The Washington Post and The Richmond-Times Dispatch, among other publications.

His work with professors from six other universities on “Transformation of Racialized American Southern Heritage Landscape,” was made possible through a National Science Foundation grant. The team is documenting visitors’ experiences to show how slavery is presented at plantation house museums in Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia.

Dr. Hanna also studied how markers represent slavery in the historical landscape of Fredericksburg, Virginia with the help of several UMW students. This work appeared in Social and Cultural Geography, The Southeastern Geographer, Cultural Geographies and as a chapter in Social Memory and Heritage Tourism Methodologies (2015), a book he co-edited.

Hanna co-edited the book "Mapping Tourism" (2003), and his work appears in publications such as Progress in Human Geography, Urban Geography, Cartographica and ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies. He is a member of the Association of American Geographers and regularly prepares maps for academic books and journals, including a recent depiction of the shift in vote for Virginia Senator Mark Warner between 2001 and 2014.

Areas of Expertise (10)

Mapping elections

Cartography and GIS

Southern plantation museums

Confederate memorials


Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Global Economic Development

Urban Geography

Historical Geography


Accomplishments (3)

American Association of Geographers Fellow


The AAG Fellows program recognizes geographers who have made significant contributions to advancing geography.

Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers Research Honors Award (professional)


Professor of Geography Stephen Hanna won the Research Honors Award for his work in critical and cultural geography.

University of Mary Washington Waple Faculty Professional Achievement Award (professional)


The nomination-based award recognizes faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to their scholarly or creative area of expertise.

Education (3)

University of Kentucky: Ph.D., Geography 1997

University of Vermont: M.A., Geography 1992

Clark University: B.A., Geography 1987

Affiliations (2)

  • Association of American Cartographers : Member
  • Association of American Geographers : Member, Southeastern Division

Media Appearances (15)

Article co-authored by ETSU’s Dr. Candace Forbes Bright wins first Zumkehr Prize

Johnson City Press  online


Members of the winning team will share the $2,000 prize, and the team’s lead researcher, Dr. Stephen P. Hanna of the University of Mary Washington, will be invited to share the team’s work in a public lecture at OU during the 2020-21 academic year.

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What do Fredericksburg's monuments and markers tell - or not tell - about the history of slavery in the city?

The Free Lance-Star  print


UMW geography professor Steve Hanna says the answer is some, but not enough. In 2013, he and his student assistants mapped all of the city’s historical markers and monuments to determine what stories they told—or did not tell—about the history of Fredericksburg’s enslaved population. This year, they updated that map to see if anything had changed.

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Civil Rights and Civil War Markers

With Good Reason  radio


A town’s historical markers tell visitors the story of a place. But what do they leave out? We take a walking tour of Fredericksburg, Virginia’s historic markers and monuments to understand its untold stories.

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People Vote, Acres Don't: Virginia's 2017 Election in Perspective

Virginia Capitol Connections Quarterly Magazine  print


Virginia's political culture is changing so fast that nearly everyone is struggling to keep up. The 15-seat gain by Democrats in the House of Delegates--one of the largest single-election increases in decades--surprised experienced politicians and political observers from across the state. In addition, Virginians elected Ralph Northam governor with a 9-percentage point margin, a large increase from Terry McAuliffe's 2.5-point victory margin four years earlier.

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Virginia's changing party dynamics

Richmond Times Dispatch  print


This cartogram of Virginia illustrates what Democratic gain and Republican pain looks like. As shown in this map, which adjusts the size of cities and counties to take account of the numbers of votes cast in the gubernatorial election, every single major population center in Virginia has become more Democratic in its voting patterns over the past four years.

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This one map shows the Republicans' problem in Virginia

The Washington Post  print


The Republican Party had a bad night Tuesday in the Virginia state elections. How bad? That can be summarized in a couple of maps. Below is the traditional color-coded map of the Virginia gubernatorial results. It shows many Republican counties marked in red and a smaller number of Democratic counties or cities in blue.

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Fredericksburg slave auction block has history of controversy

Richmond Times-Dispatch  online


The University of Mary Washington geography professor worked with two UMW students to map, photograph and transcribe them to create a database. What’s largely missing, he said, are mentions of slavery, a prime cause of the war, and emancipation, which was one of its results.

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Local Civil War memorials give short shrift to story of slavery and emanicipation

The Free Lance-Star  print


In the wake of the last week’s white supremacist march in Charlottesville, which purportedly was organized to protest the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, Fredericksburg residents may well be wondering what the monuments, historical markers and other elements in our commemorative landscape say about slavery, the Civil War and Emancipation. Fredericksburg residents never erected a major monument to a Confederate military or civilian leader on courthouse grounds or along a major thoroughfare. The Ladies Memorial Association did raise funds to create the Confederate Cemetery in 1870, and erected one of the city’s two large statues commemorating Confederate soldiers on its grounds.

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Republican Renaissance?

Virginia Capitol Connections Quarterly Magazine  print


Within Democrat Hillary Clinton's victory in swing-state Virginia last month lies the opportunity for a possible Republican renaissance in statewide elections next November.

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Here’s how Comstock beat Bennett in purple Northern Virginia

The Washington Post  print


Rep. Barbara Comstock, reelected on Nov. 8 in the battleground communities of the District’s western Virginia suburbs, really knows the 10th Congressional District.

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Trump's rivals couldn't catch him in Virginia's GOP primary

Richmond Times-Dispatch  print


The 2016 Virginia Republican Primary results demonstrate the #NeverTrump GOP movement gearing up after Super Tuesday probably is doomed. Unlike those participating in many of the earlier states in the nomination calendar — and many of the other states that also voted on Super Tuesday — Virginia’s Republican voters are a highly diverse group with something of an identity crisis. Consider the range of Virginia Republicans: national security conservatives concentrated in Hampton Roads and near the Pentagon and Quantico; evangelical conservatives who populate the state’s rural heartland; libertarians found in the exurbs of northern Virginia and Richmond; and more centrist Republicans — who care more about winning elections than ideological purity — who are particularly likely to call Fairfax or suburban Richmond home. Still others casting ballots last week were non-Republicans who chose to vote in a GOP contest in Virginia, a state that does not register voters by party.

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More to the Tour: Slave History at Virginia's Plantations

WVTF Public Radio  radio


In addition to museums, battlegrounds and presidential homes, tourists find history at dozens of plantations that are open to the public. Often they learn about the big, elegant homes at the heart of those properties – about the people who lived there, but how do mannerly tour guides introduce the harsh subject of slavery? That’s what a team from the University of Mary Washington hopes to learn as Sandy Hausman reports.

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Why Mark Warner's race turned into a nail-biter

The Washington Post  online


Stephen Hanna of the University of Mary Washington created the map below as part of a research project by Stephen Farnsworth, Stephen Hanna and Benjamin Hermerding. It contrasts the shift in the vote for Mark Warner between 2001, when he became governor, with his vote in 2014. The swollen blue areas were more likely to vote for Warner over the span of 13 years -- but also overlap with the areas where turnout dipped the most...

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Why Republicans lost in Virginia -- in three great maps

The Washington Post  print


For Virginia Republicans, this month’s gubernatorial race demonstrates that standing in place means losing ground. A comparison of two governor’s races – the relatively close 2013 contest and the 2005 election when Democrat Tim Kaine defeated Republican Jerry Kilgore – illustrates the dangers for the GOP if the party does not respond to a rapidly changing state electorate.

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Why Purple Virginia is Starting to Look Rather Blue

The Washington Post  print


A dozen years ago, Fairfax County was the partisan battle line in Virginia. Republicans won the more distant suburbs to the west and south, and Democrats generated huge margins in Arlington and Alexandria. But in 2008 and again in 2012, that line shifted to Prince William and Loudoun counties, with Barack Obama winning both each time. Now Stafford and Spotsylvania counties, more distant parts of the ever-expanding Washington suburbs, seem destined to be the next frontier.

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Articles (14)

Placing the Enslaved at Oak Valley Plantation: Narratives, Spatial Contexts, and the Limits of Surrogation"

Journal of Heritage Tourism


Professor of Geography Stephen Hanna’s article, “Placing the enslaved at Oak Alley Plantation: narratives, spatial contexts, and the limits of surrogation,” appeared in a special issue of the Journal of Heritage Tourism entitled, Memory, Slavery, and Plantation Museums: The River Road Project. Hanna also co-wrote the issue’s introductory article and served as co-editor for the other five articles appearing in the issue.

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11 Reading the commemorative landscape with a qualitative GIS

Social Memory and Heritage Tourism Methodologies


Critical research on commemorative landscapes often begins with an examination of dominant or hegemonic social memories reproduced through landscape creation, reproduction, and practice (Katriel, 1993; Butler, 2001; Eichstedt and Small, 2002; Hoelscher and Alderman, 2004; Hoelscher, 2006) and then attempts to excavate subaltern narratives suppressed in this process (Alderman and Campbell, 2008).

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Social Memory and Heritage Tourism Methodologies



The examination of social memory and heritage tourism has grown considerably over the past few decades as scholars have critically re-examined the relationships between past memories and present actions at international, national, and local scales.

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Reading the signs: using a qualitative Geographic Information System to examine the commemoration of slavery and emancipation on historical markers in Fredericksburg, Virginia

cultural geographies


Abstract Until recently, narratives of slavery and emancipation have been absent from, or at best marginalized within, landscapes designed to commemorate colonial, antebellum, and Civil War history in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and most other places within the United States.

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Mapping Wonderlands: Illustrated Cartography of Arizona, 1912–1962

Journal of Historical Geography


SP Hanna - Journal of Historical Geography, 2014

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Cartographic Memories of Slavery and Freedom: Examining John Washington's Map and Mapping of Fredericksburg, Virginia

Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization


In 1873, former slave John Washington (1838-1918) wrote his memoir, Memorys of the Past. This account includes a remarkable map that locates Washington's experiences as a slave, his acts of resistance, and the route of his escape from bondage in 1862. Washington's map is both a work of memory and a rare example of a subaltern cartographic practice.

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Here, George Washington Was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National Monument

Social & Cultural Geography


From Greensboro to China: YMCA architecture as international business', illustrates how the development of the YMCA Building Bureau resolved the tension between Beaux Arts-trained architects desirous to emphasize aesthetics and a YMCA leadership eager for building design to follow the Y's social programme.

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Beyond the ‘Binaries’: A Methodological Intervention for Interrogating Maps as Representational Practices Vincent J. Del Casino Jr. and

The Map Reader: Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation


The Map Reader: Theories of Mapping Practice

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A slavery museum?: Race, memory, and landscape in Fredericksburg, Virginia

southeastern geographer


In spring 2001, former governor Douglas Wilder announced that he might locate the United States National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Despite some recent changes, Fredericksburg's heritage tourism landscape, as it is built and performed, reproduces a white American nationalism extolling the virtues of individualism, valor, and free enterprise.

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Beyond the 'binaries': A methodological intervention for interrogating maps as representational practices

ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies


Over the past two decades, a growing number of geographers and cartographic historians have critically examined maps as products imbued with power, the social contexts of map production, and the intimate involvement of cartography in Western imperialism ...

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Representation as work in 'America's most historic city'

Social and Cultural Geography


This paper examines how the practices of heritage tourism reproduce identities in and of Fredericksburg, Virginia. In particular, we focus on the everyday practices of tourism workers who are essential in the representation and reproduction of this heritage space. In so ...

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Representations and identities in tourism map spaces

Progress in Human Geography


Tourism maps remain underexamined in geography. Despite recent trends in critical cartography and tourism studies that redefine the relationship between space and representation, these geographic texts are rarely explored for their intertextual ...

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Methodological frameworks for the geography of organizations



In this paper, we present three methodological frameworks for the geographic study of organizations. These are situated within three meta-theoretical perspectives in human geography: spatial science, critical realism, and post-structuralism. Each framework offers ...

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Is it Roslyn or is it Cicely? Representation and the ambiguity of place

Urban Geography


Representations or images of place are widely recognized as contributing to how people understand the places in which they live, work, and study. Increasingly they are being seen to contribute to the production of places as well. This paper addresses the relationships ...

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