There are maps available now which trace and chart the cultural transmission and dissemination of African religious practices and cosmologies to the New World and beyond, as well as the circulation of specific African populations within the New World through the Middle Passage. However, there is no existing educational tool, web-enabled or otherwise, that gives scholars, students and the public an opportunity to explore the political linkages between African-descended organizations and individuals across national and regional boundaries through the twentieth century.
Therefore, the purpose of our atlas is to enable students and scholars to comprehend the spread of ideologies, political aspirations and social movements of people of African descent across the globe. In the same way revolutions and rebellions throughout the world were inspired by the French and U.S. revolutions, political events of the African diaspora have served as object lessons and symbols in social movements and independence struggles.
One of the defining characteristics of modern diaspora populations is the creation of networks of affiliation, political organization and practice across national boundaries. Armenians, Estonians, Zionist, African-descended and other diasporai share this form of political behavior, rooted in the belief among political actors that their relation to the nation-state system is, in the words of Paul Gilroy, "contingent and partial".
Currently, as of February 2001, there are 56 entries in the Atlas covering two separate time periods:
The technical capabilities of the project will extend
the atlas to over 2000 entries covering black transnational politics
of the twentieth century. The site uses Extensible Markup Language,
or XML, a powerful language used to build dynamic web sites. This
allows writing and research to remain separate from the technical
architecture. Future costs of increasing the number of entries can
now be centered on scholastic research instead of expensive hand
coding of individual articles.