Skip to main content

Participatory Mapping: Engaging Sites, Mobilizing Knowledges

Last week, at the Imagining America conference in Seattle, WA, Sarah Elwood and I co-organized a workshop titled, "Participatory Mapping: Engaging Sites, Mobilizing Knowledges".  With the help of Jin-Kyu Jung, Ryan Burns, and Josef Eckert (and greatly informed by the work of Jentery Sayers), 22 workshop attendees collaborated in six small groups to map the university, using documenting practices like sketching, filming, and photographing.  The workshop packet is below.

Each group was given a theme which was to be expressed through their mapping process.  Themes included: collaboration, movement, culture, politics, and the social.  After a brief, 30-minute field mapping session, each group was able to upload a few items to the collaborative map (see below).  The map is by no means complete (are they ever?), but it gives you a sense of the kinds of practices afforded by visual, mobile technologies.

Session description:
Building on the organizers’ experiences with mapping projects undertaken with middle-school youth and college students, this site visit explore site-making through multi-sensory and multi-modal forms of participatory mapping.  Using the university itself as a site for engagement and a series of imaginative prompts, participants will experiment with various modes of data collection (documenting observations in words, sketch maps, photographs, video and audio clips) and presentation (Google Maps and geo-blogging mashups). Participants will experience participatory mapping as a curious and serendipitous exploration of public spaces, a creative platform for catalyzing new modes of public engagement, a critical tool facilitating the co-production of knowledge and interrogating the spatial intersectionalities of culture, politics, technology, and the social.  The workshop will be framed by reflections on the use of these critical and creative modalities in curricular and collaborative projects from a variety of field perspectives.

Photos captured during the mapping process are located here.
Videos captured during the mapping process are located here.

Map produced:

View Imagining America in a larger map


  1. Thank you all for a very engaging and informative session. It was fantastic to literally get our hands dirty in learning about mapping tools, and the hands-on support was invaluable. I'm not quite sure I understand how to really use Google mapping to explore abstract concepts like embodiment and culture in a rigorous way, but I've learned the basic tools to at least think more about how to do this. Thanks!

  2. This session was hugely helpful! As a wanna-be geographer and a community-oriented English teacher, I have been asking students to conduct a writing marathon on campus every semester (adapted from the National Writing Project's writing marathon New Orleans event From that work, I have tried several ways to "map" our experiences, but it is only after your workshop that I now know how to do so. I'm excited to use this new knowledge to capture a "participatory mapping" activity in my American Studies class that asks students to collaborate and choose 3 different sites on campus where they take notes in response to prepared questions, take a photo, mark the spot in chalk, and return to "map" their experiences. THANK you all for your genial and brilliant presentation. I so appreciate it. Linda Stewart, Kennesaw State University

  3. Google maps are very helpful for people who are new in a certain place and those looking for certain establishments in their towns or streets. Just a click away, surveying and exploring are a lot easier now. Technology has proven itself to us again!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Atlas for a Community Mapshop

Community Mapshop 2015 has culminated in a series of outputs and engagements, but most recent among these, is our Atlas for a Community Mapshop . This is a compilation designed by a student in the course,  Renae Mantooth , containing a number of the graphics and maps produced at the mid and final reviews for the studio. Using Denis Wood's Everything Sings  as our inspiration, the class was asked to prepare graphics in grayscale, allowing for their easy reproduction and circulation. You can read the digital text, here (or below, or download ). We explored the following themes: Food Network Education Opportunities Modes of Travel Bus Shelter Inequity Uneven Housing Landscape Wifi Inequity Blue Grass Trust Plaque Program Facade Dichotomy From the text: Drawing on the last twenty-five years of scholarship in critical cartography and critical GIS, this workshop begins from the premise that maps are more than windows on the world. Maps do not only provide a record

A Critical Spin on GEOG265, 'Introduction to GIS'

I'm gearing up for next semester's Introduction to GIS, a course required of all Geography (and Social Studies Education ) majors at Ball State University .  In this course, I attempt to provide learning opportunities such that students can learn the technical skills associated with geographic information technologies, while situating these technical practices, critically . Course Description: This course will serve as an introduction to the concepts, techniques, and histories that motivate geographic information systems.  This course will simultaneously expose students to key moments in the academic literature that gave rise to GIS in the discipline of geography while providing the necessary, introductory skills to operate ArcGIS.  GIS brings together traditional cartographic principles, computer-assisted analytical cartography, relational database design, and digital image processing and analysis to enable people to develop geospatial databases, analyze those databases, a

Critical GIS in the classroom

For one academic year, I've attempted a different type of approach to an introductory course in GIS, drawing on various curricular strategies of Nadine Schuurman , Sarah Elwood , Francis Harvey , and Meghan Cope .  In this course, students work through introductory technical skills, while simultaneously reading/writing about and discussing the GIS & Society tradition.  In this brief post, I'm asking students who participated in this introductory GIS course to reflect on what it means to practice 'critical GIS'.