Session 27

F3 Mapping, Social Mapping, Participatory Methods, Spatial Research, Planning

The following session invites contributions from researchers, practitioners and educators who are working with mapping as a participative tool for planning and spatial research. This session’s papers will reflect on results, processes and challenges that have risen when applying such tools. Maps are social constructions. Historically, they have been built by nation states and organizations associated with the purpose of identifying geospatial features. Mapmakers interpret their reality following the reproduction of dispositives (dispositif; Focault, 2005), thus conventional mapping methods that are strongly embedded in those dispositives are instruments of top-down planning, as they are often drawn and represented with elements that reproduce the hegemonic discourse. However, participatory mapping as a qualitative and engaged research tool can be an opportunity for collectives, stakeholders, citizens and practitioners alike to take action in and gain power over their spaces. Under these assumptions, participatory mapping processes can provide valuable insights about the perception, knowledge and production of the inhabited spaces and its settlers, thus serving as a tool for planners and spatial researchers to support bottom-up practices. Participatory mapping has served various groups differently. Typically, researchers have used it to collect diverse data that combines lay and expert knowledge to illuminate diverse populations’ values, perceptions, and needs on different spatial scales: such as neighborhoods, zones, cities, provinces, regions and so on; alternatively, community-based groups, activists, and other nongovernmental groups have used it to challenge power relations (Saija and Pappalardo 2022). This type of tool is not limited to just gathering various strategies, desires, and visions over the spaces where people move and live, but also it can lead to many ‘off-the-map’ benefits, such as coalition building, socialization of knowledge, etc…

In this session, the contributions should reflect on one or more of the following questions: (a) In which moments can participatory mapping occur in planning processes? (b) What is needed to organize a participatory mapping event? (c) How can participatory mapping bolster our other community-minded approaches? (d) In what ways are terminologies, visualizations, or knowledge (for example) ‘translated’ before, during, or after participatory mapping processes? (e) And finally, in what ways can we ‘interpret’ the results of a mapping? Moreover, this session reflects upon the expectations of the researcher and addresses the bio-political nature of collective action, considering gestures, forms of graphic representation of perception, and the subsequent conversion of data into information and dissemination. It aims to reflect on the interactions between the researcher (or the mapping organizer) and the participants as well as the active and passive roles of participatory mapping processes, such as the forms of evaluation that are made regarding information that researchers collect and the ways it contributes to citizenship. Finally, it encourages contributions that are inter and transdisciplinary in the context of both the Global South and the Global North, aiming to debate the spatial particularities of such methodologies and the experiences within the ‘field of action’.