You’ve never heard of the International Society for the History of the Map before. I could tell you the capital of Tanzania and I’ve never heard of the IHSM before. And this is what makes what is going on there so fascinating: a “constitutional crisis”. Normally these people are describing constitutional crises, not having one themselves.

First, if you ever bothered to look up this group, you’ll be redirected to this website, complete with 2001 web design glory. But if you look a little harder, you may end up on this website, titled “mapping as a process”. Even in the world of mapping, you have to trust the process. But in all seriousness, that’s the center of a controversy with the IHSM with their old President, Zsolt G. Török, a Hungarian professor, who was kicked out of the society but refuses to give up power.

Here’s what the new website says about this coup:

“The Hon. Chair of ISHMAP for 2016–17, Prof. Zsolt Török, failed to complete basic tasks required for the constitutional existence of the Society. As a result, ISHMap’s Annual General Meeting in July 2017 was forced to elect a new council.

Prof. Török has refused to abide by this election, claiming the AGM was illegal. He therefore continues to claim to be Hon. Chair even though, according to the Society’s Constitution and By-Laws, he ceased to be Hon. Chair as of 30 June 2017

….Prof. Török is using his control of the website and listserv to continue to claim to be Hon. Chair and to claim to be the only “democratic” society and to confuse the international community…. The ISHMap Council is adamant that Prof. Török’s actions are illegitimate, ill-advised, and detrimental to the health of the international community of map historians.”

Looking into it more deeply, it turns a lot of Zsolt’s anger stems from the 2001-ness of the web design of the first website we showed you. As the new, more modern website, describes what’s going on:

“The nub of the matter is that Prof. Török claims that he remains the chair of the Society, even though he ceased to be a member as of 30 June 2017 and was not elected for 2017–18. He is advertising his claim, and insisting that he alone represents the “true” society, through the old, malfunctioning website and listserv that he controls.

To summarize:

• Prof. Török is no longer Chair of the Society

• his failures to undertake his responsibilities as Chair were the cause of the Society’s 2017 constitutional crisis

• he is not in control of the Society’s bank account

• he is not in communication with Taylor & Francis concerning reduced-rate subscriptions to Imago Mundi

But yesterday, the crisis deepened. The old website, run by Zsolt, is now soliciting donations for paid memberships in 2018, though no one knows where that money would be going to because he doesn’t control the IHSM’s bank accounts anymore. This page on the new website describes the crisis in detail which there shouldn’t be for a society about the history of maps.

This is the most anyone has ever cared about the history of international mapping, let alone the leadership of a six-year-old organization dedicated to the history of international mapping. What are people who want 18th-century maps of Maine, Mogadishu or Milan going to do?


About Matt Lichtenstadter

Recent Maryland graduate. I've written for many sites including World Soccer Talk,, Testudo Times, Yahoo's Puck Daddy Blog and more. Houndstooth is still cool, at least to me. Follow me @MattsMusings1 on Twitter, e-mail me about life and potential jobs at matthewaaron9 at Yahoo dot com.