Mapping is an age-old tool. Most cultures map the land, although not all cultures have used paper. Sometimes the land is mapped through stories passed along through generations to help remember routes, history, territory, teachings. Sometimes, the land is mapped through song. Mapping has a darker history too: maps have been used to claim land, and establish territory. Maps have been used to erase older, traditional territories, place names and histories. When maps present place and land as a static thing, the histories, natural processes and non-dominant relationships are lost.
Birds, animals, rivers, waterways, and the movement of winds, seeds, and animals do not follow political boundaries or remain within a particular territory.
Consider what cannot or usually is not included on paper maps: sounds, emotions, stories, animal tracks, change, process, wind, scents…
Mapping can be a fascinating, creative and powerful tool to create counter-maps that challenge the dominant way of claiming or knowing place. Maps can privilege personal, emotional and cultural ways of knowing. Maps can depict non-visual and more embodied ways of relating to, and knowing place. Maps can show process and change over time, rather than a static representation.
We do a lot of mapping engagements at 4e, sometimes to integrate a personal, emotional experience of place, sometimes to build awareness of non-visual ways of knowing, and sometimes to create conversation about power and place.