Category: Short Papers

(Un)Privileging the Map: A Community Collaboration in Understanding Economic Security

Fatima Koli
Columbia University

Premilla Nadasen
Barnard College

Alisa Rod
Barnard College

The Mississippi Semester Project is a collaborative, critical GIS project bringing together members of Barnard College’s Empirical Reasoning Center, History Professor Premilla Nadasen, undergraduate students, and the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative (MLICCI), an advocacy organization for women on welfare and child-care providers. This project developed out of the needs of MLICCI to understand the economic security of women in Mississippi and sought to move beyond the limitations of current analyses on poverty. Measuring economic security has often been synonymous with measuring poverty and most studies on poverty, even critical studies, privilege data and/or maps and limit their analysis to either gender or race. We utilized mapping as a way to surface inequities, but we also prioritized the lived experiences of low-income women in Mississippi and worked with them to redefine economic security to include variables such as education, unemployment, and health insurance. Complicating the narrative around race and gender, we incorporated Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory on intersectionality and mapped the effect of both race and gender on women’s economic security. This project provides a framework for developing critical GIS projects that are participatory, incorporate nuanced understandings of inequality and power, and that value oral histories and lived experiences. An experiment in pedagogy, the project also provides a framework for teaching students, primarily in the social sciences, how to incorporate quantitative analysis into advocacy work, while still utilizing qualitative analysis and elevating people’s stories.

A Tale of Two Cities: Sur Before and After

Anna Rebrii
Independent Researcher

Idil Onen
Independent Researcher

William Scarfone
Goldsmith University 

While human rights violations committed by the Turkish state during and after the 2015-2016 military operation in Sur have been well documented and severely criticized, there has been no comprehensive field research to establish the continuity between the destruction of the city’s built environment and the displacement of the population by military means and by means of the subsequent urban renovation. This continuity will be established by examining how these two interconnected aspects of state violence are employed for the purposes of ethnic governance. To this end, this research will identify the convergence of the state’s political goals of maintaining hegemonic power and economic interests behind the state’s construction plans through a) examination of the demographic profile and urban planning before and after the conflicts, b) analysis of the key beneficiaries of the developments in Sur and c) analysis of the continuity between discursive strategies of war on terrorism and urban renovation employed by the state. As victims affected by these developments have still not been compensated for their losses and continue to be subjected to rights violations by the state, not only in Sur, but also in other cities of Turkey’s southeast where the military operations took place, it is urgent to uncover the full extent of devastation brought about by both processes of military intervention and urban renovation and to identify the key beneficiaries who should be held accountable.

Augmenting People’s Geographies of Seattle: Digital platforms as participatory methods

Christian Anderson
University of Washington Bothell

Abraham Avnisan
Kent State University

Amir Sheikh
University of Washington Bothell

This paper jumps off from a discussion of two overlapping place-based projects which the authors and additional collaborators are currently working to develop in the Seattle, WA metropolitan region. One project, called unARchived, entails an open-source augmented reality iOS app and accompanying website, which are themselves sub-elements of a larger umbrella-project called the People’s Geography of Seattle (PGS). The PGS started in 2017 as a university-public collaboration among community-based public historians, artists, storytellers, activists, and faculty at the University of Washington. Both projects draw on frameworks of participatory action research, counter-mapping, and community archiving and story-telling. Rooted in such approaches, both projects aim to curate historical and contemporary images, oral histories, interviews, maps, tours, and other artifacts in a manner which might amplify existing community capacities while at the same time countering dominant, naturalizing understandings of the rapid tech-capital led development and displacement ongoing in the city and the region. Crucially, we approach such activities as methodological starting points rather than outcomes. In that context this paper aims to extend ongoing conversations about how digital cartographic and visual humanities platforms—unARchived being a first iteration of one such platform—might accommodate overarching visions based on the approaches outlined above while also engendering additional engagements including further place-based collaborations, organizing efforts, and anti-displacement actions themselves.

Digital Sing Sing: Specters of the Incarcerated

Roger Panetta
Fordham University

In 2014 the New York State Archives reached an agreement with Ancestry .com to digitize a broad range of State legislative documents including the Sing Sing Prison Admission Registers from 1845 to 1939. While this excited penal historians they were quickly overwhelmed by the prospect of deciphering thousands of pages of records of Sing Sing Prison. The annual handwritten registers contained an average 500 entries, each filling about three quarters of a page, written in a variety of idiosyncratic scripts. The entries were sequentially numbered totaling 70,000 in all. Who kept these records, for what purpose, and what governed the kinds of information collected? How do we explain the derivation and justification for the individuals items included for each notation-age, crime, length of sentence, race, religion, residence, family, temperance, literacy, facial and body markings. What was excluded? The registers provide a detailed profile of Sing Sing’s criminal class and a body of data which is highly manipulable-a cliometrican’s dream if only ways could be found to code this enormous penal ledger. The scope of the Sing Sing collection seems to recommend an aggregate analysis, longitudinal studies and the kind of approach that feeds our desire to delineate the “criminal class” over time. The moral crises of mass incarceration in the United States weighed heavily on my scholarship and my central preoccupation with the dehumanizing of tens of thousands of inmates who are historically invisible. The construct of the criminal class has depersonalized our view of the incarcerated, distanced us from the lives of prisoners, and fed the pervasive notion of the criminal other. The Sing Sing Admissions registers challenged me in new ways. What could they tell me about the individual lives? Could the details of the registers provide the human dimensions, the biographical outlines that would help me see the men as persons-urban residents who led problematic existences in New York City-Sing Sing’s great incubator. Could we find ways to animate this mountain of raw data and draw from it the specters of human biography. Can we learn to listen to these muted archival voices? This paper proposes to explore the use of the Sing Admission Registers as biographical specters-tracers of human lives.

Distributional Justice of NYC’s Urban Ecosystem Services: Analyzing the Mismatches in Supply and Demand

Pablo Herreros Cantis
Urban Systems Lab, The New School

Timon McPhearson
Urban Systems Lab, The New School
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University

Cities are increasingly relying on urban green infrastructure (UGI) to mitigate the impacts of climate change based on the fact that UGI can provide ecosystem services (ES). However, ES and UGI are spatially explicit, and tend to be unevenly distributed through the urban fabric. This uneven distribution tends to generate areas in which the supply and the demand of ES are highly mismatched, generating underserved areas. In addition, the uneven distribution of UGI and ES might have distributional (in)justice implications if highly served areas showed a higher income and a higher presence of white residents over other communities of color. In this study, we mapped the supply, demand and mismatch of ES in NYC based on the current ditribution of green land cover and other auxiliary indicators. The ES assessed are considered key for climate change adaptation, being “local temperature regulation, storm-water regulation and air purification”. Consequently, we clustered NYC’s census blocks according to their mismatch value for each ES, generating clusters with “Very high” to Very low” mismatch. Race and income was then compared per mismatch cluster, showing that clusters with lower mismatch (better served by ES in comparison to the local demand) tend to be populated by a white majority and by residents with a higher median income.

Ethics and/of Uncertainty: Urban Computing’s Synthetic People

Dare Brawley
Columbia University

Gayatri Kawlra
Columbia University

Francis Yu
Columbia University

This paper takes up synthetic populations as a way to discuss the ethics of uncertainty in data-driven urban processes. Urban-tech tells us that better data is a replacement for more robust democracy; that urban issues are solved through more computation, not more deliberation; and that data can increasingly substitute for political representation. In the face of these ever louder claims for calculable urban futures we examine the logics underlying one of these urban models conceptually and methodologically. Synthetic populations describe a fictitious but statistically representative urban populace. Materially, a synthetic population is a dataset. A dataset comprised of individual-level statistics, (think of age, household income, number of children) which were calculated from aggregate data, for example, the number of 35-40 year olds per census tract. Thus, population synthesis is a method that aims to generate granular data where it didn’t exist previously, a way of estimating specificity. These fictional populations are mobilized in the form of computational depictions of human behavior and decisions in ‘agent-based models’. Synthetic urban residents are used to determine the impacts of transportation systems; to map the spread of disease; and to draw segregation over time; to inform urban policy. This paper presents ongoing research using GIS-based methods to investigate whether synthetic populations evenly represent the cities and citizens they claim to describe. It asks whether mathematical sophistication here obscures an underlying uncertainty, and, in turn, speculates on the stakes of this uncertainty for the creation of a just city.

Geography of Charter School Opportunity: The Case of New York City Subway Lines and Education Deserts

Charisse Gulosino
University of Berkeley

The concept of “education deserts” has been recently used in education as a framework to identify areas where there are no colleges or neighborhood public schools. Like “food desert” neighborhoods’ lacking access to nutritious, safe and affordable food—there exist deserts where educational opportunities are all but nonexistent. While research on food deserts is in its infancy, research completed to date shows that deserts do not occur by chance but are systematically related based on conditions determined by race, class, and other contextual factors, resulting in gaps in service provision. It’s worth noting that the term “education desert” is relatively new; the operational definition serves as proof of concept for further inquiry into this phenomenon, particularly as it relates to expanding choice in poor neighborhoods. Current New York City Department of Education data and from multiple federal sources are used to determine the spatial terrain of regular public school high-need areas. The spatial analysis is superimposed on the subway public transportation network to produce a subway map of stops and lines quantified by over a wide range of potential students attending high-need public schools. The mapping of the public school high-need landscape and public transportation reveals that existing charter schools may expand in connected areas with dense proportions of vulnerable students in high-need public schools. These findings could be used as a guide to facilitate charter school locational patterns and thus greater equity in access.

Gourmet Gentrification: Mapping Elite Tastes Along New York’s Consumption Frontier, 1990-2015

Will Payne

University of California, Berkeley

Theorists of gentrification and other urban scholars have long considered the spread of upscale amenities like restaurants, cafes, and bars to be important visual indicators of gentrification in the built environment. Scholars from urban geographer Neil Smith to sociologists Sharon Zukin, Sylvie Tissot, and Richard Ocejo have demonstrated how new high-end consumption spaces can themselves become spurs to further change in an area, in an unfolding dialectic of rising cultural and real estate capital, forcing out low-income residents. In this paper, I extend this tradition to consider the role of evolving informational networks about urban consumption, from paper guidebooks like the Zagat Survey to mobile location-based service (LBS) and web mapping applications like Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Local, and their interaction with broader trends in urban inequality and sociospatial segmentation. In my research, I argue that changes in the production and distribution of spatial data about urban amenities help to accelerate gentrification and residential displacement, as the use value of local businesses like gourmet restaurants and bars is quickly inscribed into digital databases and realized as exchange value in real estate and tourist markets. This paper looks at the period from 1990-2015, using data from New York’s pioneer “user-generated” restaurant guide the Zagat Survey to trace the contours of “gourmet gentrification” over time, with special attention to the accelerating rate of change in Brooklyn neighborhoods.

How Flood Risk and Justice Combine in Costal Cities: A Mix-Method Approach for East Harlem (New York City)

Veronica Olivotto
Milano School of Policy, Management and the Environment
Urban Systems Lab 2

The New School

Pablo Herreros-Cantis
Urban Systems Lab 2
The New School

For decades the Environmental Justice (EJ) literature has studied the connection between race and proximity to toxic facilities in cities. This work is being leveraged and built upon to understand how justice and flood risk combine in coastal areas. One of the main issues however, is how to combine the insights from a spatial and quantitative approach of distributional justice with the more rich and intricate insights from qualitative understandings of procedural justice. In this short paper, we present findings from analyses in East Harlem, a Potential Environmental Justice Community (PEJC) due to its demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Using GIS, we map and compare tax lot area, total population, land uses and values exposed to FEMA’s floodplain of 2007 and the revised 2015 projections as well as differences between lots within and outside the 2015 floodplain. In the same way, we also track differences across eleven socio-economic indicators of vulnerability. We find some differences in industrial land uses exposed to the floodplains, which may be due to rezoning that took place in 2008. Statistically significant change in socio-vulnerability indicators are more acute in Census Block Group falling within the East Harlem floodplain. Questions arise about how historical patterns of urbanization and up-zoning in the floodplain may lead to people being more or less vulnerable. We attempt to explain and enrich the discussion by conducting in depth interviews with community groups and content analysis of relevant urban policy documents, following a procedural justice approach.

How Policymakers Make Sense of and Act On Mapping Data in Education Research

Jeremy Singer
Wayne State University

Sarah Winchell Lenhoff
Wayne State University

How might the use of maps shape policymakers’ interpretation and use of research? We answer this question through a reflective case study of policymaker and community member responses to education policy research that leverages mapping and geospatial analysis. Based on interviews with educational leaders and city officials, we discuss their relative attention to mapped data in the reports, the nature of conclusions that stakeholders drew from the maps, and the way in which their reading of maps interacted with their reading of the research as a whole. We found that our partners who were already concerned with the geography of absenteeism, exit, and mobility paid more attention to the maps; the maps encouraged our partners to think about collaborative and concrete solutions; and all our partners had a desire for more mapped data, especially in the form of digital and interactive maps. Policymakers may be especially compelled by geographic representations of educational issues and may adopt more concrete and solutions-oriented thinking when associating educational issues with specific places under their purview. Further, policymakers are likely to engage with digital maps that make geographic data more accessible and more interactive. Beyond simply including maps in research and policy reports, researchers can approach mapping as joint work with policymakers, using the process and products of geospatial analysis as an opportunity for ongoing engagement with policymakers.

Humanities Futures: Reflections on Digital Mapping for Democratizing the Production of Knowledge

Kelley Kreitz
Pace University

This paper draws on a mapping project,, that I have been conducting with students in introductory Latinx literature courses, which involves plotting addresses found in archival sources to recover the understudied community of writers, editors, printers, booksellers, who once led New York’s nineteenth-century Latinx press. I consider digital mapping as a research and pedagogical tool for confronting absences in the archive and for making history not just knowable, but also teachable in new ways that enable students to critique and confront structural inequality and systematic oppression. I argue that digital mapping provides a means of realizing the potential of our digitally dominated media system to put the past in conversation with current struggles for social justice. This paper speaks to those who research and teach courses in Latinx Studies. It is also meant to spark interdisciplinary conversation, especially among those working in fields that must confront absences and omissions in the archive, including hemispheric studies, black Atlantic studies, and indigenous studies.

Mapping and placemaking to understand school segregation and integration

Bryan Mann
University of Alabama

Jaclyn Dudek
University of Alabama

School and neighborhood segregation represent spatial circumstances. Yet, literature on school and neighborhood segregation tends to focus on outcomes associated with space, but not centrally linked to it: Educational scores, income inequality, healthcare access, and so forth. While these outcomes help explain features of space and (in)justice, our study expands on past research because it explores a key spatial question related to school segregation: How do segregation and integration shape individual placemaking of a community? Our study explores this question through interviews and mapping activities with adults who lived during different school segregation circumstances in one southern city, including legal segregation, forced integration, and re-segregation. Initial findings reveal that while housing segregation and isolation tended not to change over time in the city we studied, individuals placed different meaning to their home circumstances based on their relationships with in-neighborhood and out-of-neighborhood educational organizations. For some, school segregation exacerbated a sense of confinement that came with neighborhood segregation. For others, integration and increased educational options led to a more expansive sense of community space and place.

Mapping Critical Historical Geographies of Childhood

Meghan Cope
University of Vermont

This paper takes on both an empirical query and a more philosophical question. First, I use the findings of my Mapping American Childhoods project to explore ways that poor and parentless children from all over Vermont were subject to involuntary migration into and out of Burlington’s Home for Destitute Children, as well as the cultural construction of their self-replicating positionality as anything but the “ideal” child of the early 20th C. With a particularly active eugenics movement unfolding in Burlington in the 1920s and 30s, children in the Home were variously judged to be ‘feebleminded’, ‘of bad stock’, or otherwise unworthy of personal redemption, despite what we now see as significant structural disadvantages of poverty, poor nutrition, abuse, and emotional trauma. Mapping over 1000 children’s arrivals and departures to/from the Home between 1900-1940, with contextual data from the Matrons’ comments and individual census, we are able to trace the movement of children as well as the cultural shifts that signal changing views of childhood. Secondly, at a more ‘meta’ level, I consider how archival data on children’s lives of this era can be usefully engaged to produce critical historical geographies of childhood. Specifically, I consider some ‘digital dilemmas’ that have arisen in my own work and raise some questions about lies, privacy, and ethical quandaries.

Mapping Feminicide

Helena Suárez Val
Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies
University of Warwick

Feminicide names the gender-related violent deaths of women, the tip of the iceberg in a continuum of violence that is “terrorising women” in the Americas (Fregoso and Bejarano 2010). Latin America and the Caribbean has been named “the most violent [region] in the world for women” (UNDP and UN Women 2017) and feminist activists have been responding to this ongoing crisis by intensifying activism on the issue. As well as mass protests, performances, hashtag campaigns, community organising, and other actions, feminist activists across Latin America have been denouncing feminicide by creating digital cartographies of the violence, including my own project mapping feminicide in Uruguay ( In this short paper, I share an investigation where I put into dialogue affect and emotion theories, conceptualisations of feminicide, and scholarship that reclaims quantitative and geographic methods for feminist research and activism, to propose that digital maps of feminicide constitute feminist affect amplifiers: interactive digital artefacts through which data about cases of feminicide –modulated through feminist knowledges, emotions, and affects– are recirculated in/to the world. This practice of creating feminist data visualisations can be understood as part of an affective politics oriented to generating change in personal and political responses to feminicide. A politics hoping to end violence against women.

Mapping stories: Using GPS as an ethnographic approach to socio-spatial research with families displaced by war

Bree Akesson
Wilfrid Laurier University

There is an unprecedented number of displaced persons in the world today. This number is still rising as solutions to stem armed conflict and its subsequent displacement continue to fail. With the sudden arrival of large numbers of refugees in resource poor settings, sites for refugees have developed rapidly without attention to the social and spatial implications. Research methods with populations affected by war do not always include sensitive methods by which to better learn about their everyday mobilities. Furthermore, there is scarce research that uses geographic positioning systems (GPS) as an ethnographic approach with families displaced by war. Using a variety of data gathering methods including collaborative family interviews, drawing/mapmaking, GPS-tracked neighborhood walks, daily diaries, and GPS-tracking of everyday mobility, this presentation reports on a mixed methods research study exploring the everyday lives of Syrian families living in Lebanon. The presentation will describe how this particular combination of methods with GPS encourages individual and family voices and results in rich data on families’ socio-spatial experiences. Strengths of GPS as an ethnographic approach includes the ability to triangulate different forms of data from a variety of sources and avoiding preconceived questions in favor of learning about local categories and understandings of experience. However like other ethnographic methods, GPS also poses ethical challenges related to access, confidentiality, surveillance, and dissemination of research findings. In addition to exploring the strengths and challenges, this presentation will underscore the value of GPS as an ethnographic approach that has the capacity to shed light on the everyday realities of war-affected families and therefore contribute to solutions to ameliorate the negative consequences of war.

Out of Bounds: Mapping Uptown Youth’s Everyday Mobility through Geotagged Photo-making

Svetlana Jović
SUNY Old Westbury

Jennifer M. Pipitone
College of Mount Saint Vincent

This participatory action research project took place at Bronx Community College located in the poorest congressional district in the USA. Using photography, writing, and mapping (through photo geo-tagging), our project aimed to promote a sense of belonging among BCC students by understanding what “community” means to them, what they experience as their communities’ assets and challenges, and how they see their contribution and role within various communities. Expanding upon interpretations of data made by the entire research team, we present a spatial analysis of the geo-locations of participants’ photographs in order to illustrate and make sense of their experience of belonging in the city. Findings indicate participants experienced the blatant socioeconomic disparities characteristic of NYC neighborhoods as they traversed from one environment to another, which impacted their sense of engagement, mobility, and investment in certain communities. Participants articulated the notion that they are “the one side of the two cities,” illustrating a sense of otherness from the rest of the city. This finding was also supported by the geo-locations of their photo-making, which clustered within the “small radius” in which their lives took place. Maps revealed that participants restricted their movement to the area north of Central Park/110th street, delineating participants’ lived boundary of race and class. Overall, findings suggest that the resulting increase in participants’ sense of ownership and agency over their communities was mediated by their deeper sense-making about their individual—and their communities’—position within the broader inequitable distribution of power and resources.

Participatory Mapping for Community Empowerment and Health Equity

Jason A. Douglas, Chapman University
Andrew M. Subica, University of California, Riverside
Laresha Franks, Community Coalition
Gilbert Johnson, Community Coalition
Carlos Leon, Community Coalition
Sandra Villanueva, Loyola Marymount University
Cheryl T. Grills, Loyola Marymount University

Participatory mapping is an empowering, yet underutilized method for investigating social determinants of health disparities. To elucidate the empowering approach of participatory mapping, this paper explicates the process and outcomes of a CDC Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health-funded community-academic partnership that leveraged participatory mapping to investigate access to public parks, and community organizing to advocate for environmental change and health promotion in South Los Angeles (SLA), CA. Thirty-five SLA residents partook in two participatory mapping sessions in March and April, 2015. Using 4’x5’ paper maps, residents drew mobility routes to their local park, ranking community assets and deficits along those routes. Process forms were used to document resident participation in ensuing community organizing events and activities to disseminate mapping results and advocate for policy change. Tobacco shops were identified as problematic spaces that attract subversive activity and crime including loitering, theft, and drug dealing. Subsequent geospatial analysis confirmed significant clustering of crime around SLA tobacco shops. Following, 81 SLA residents participated in community outreach events and activities from 2016-2018 to advocate for policies limiting the proliferation of tobacco shops. As a result of community organizing around resident interests grounded in empirical data, the Los Angeles County (LAC) Board of Supervisors voted to introduce legislation banning tobacco shops in residential areas of LAC. As illustrated by this community-academic partnership, we argue that participatory mapping is an empowering approach for (1) investigating social determinants of health disparities, and (2) redefining neighborhood spaces toward the implementation of health policies that reflect community interests.

Restoration of erased landscapes, Counter-mapping and memory Activism: The Case of Zochrot’s Nakba Maps

Orna Vaadia
Ben-Gurion University

This paper examines the ways in which civic organization uses counter-mapping and memory activism to restore the erased landscape and the silenced history, within transitional justice proses, in ongoing conflict situations. Counter-mapping and memory activism are practices that seek to challenge the hegemonic perception of space, the hegemonic modes of commemoration and the collective space memory construction. Relying on the assumption that each technology enables the production of different forms of knowledge, which in turn, represents and constructs different ideas and different political relations, this paper will examine the Nakba maps: the printed map, the interactive map, and the navigation app- iNakba, produced by Zochrot. Zochrot (Hebrew word for “remembering”) is an Israeli NGO operating to promote the responsibility to the Palestinian Nakba among the Jewish public in Israel and to realize the Palestinian refugees’ right of return. The ‘Nakba’ refers to the results of the 1948 war and it stand for ‘catastrophe’ in Arabic. The Israeli and Palestinian narratives of the 1948 war constructs conflicting narratives. In light of this, the discussion of Zochrot’s Nakba maps will trace the spatial modes of representation provided by the different mapping technologies, the way they define the memory discourse in which the map seeks to operate and the ways of commemoration that they offer to each memory community.

Revealing the networks behind ‘informal’ urbanization: an ethnography of cartographic practices

Rita Lambert
The Bartlett Development Planning Unit
University College London

This paper develops a way of analyzing ‘the extensions of the extensions’, areas on the peripheral steep slopes of Lima- Peru, that keep growing beyond what is considered the edge of the metropolitan area. The occupation and construction of neighborhoods’ on the slopes is exposing an increasing number of the urban poor to hazardous living conditions. This urban phenomena has been significant in the last three decades in the Latin American region. In these areas, the practices of the State, land traffickers, disenfranchised peasant communities and those seeking a place to dwell in the city converge. This paper asks: how is it possible to research these processes and capture the amount of improvisation, experimentation and contestation shaping the relationships among all those involved? How to untangle actors and their practices and enable a transversal reading across them? To answer these questions, the paper focuses on cartography – the maps and plans used on the slopes of Lima. Through an ethnography of cartographic practices, it provides a novel methodology for bringing into view the processes, practices, alliances, and agency which are often invisible to policy makers, yet structure outcomes. In so doing, it offers analytical and methodological insights into contemporary urbanization processes across the Global South.

Rights Based Data Practice: Data Justice in Virtual Spaces and on the Ground

Lauri Goldkind
Fordham University

The perils of digital exploitation, such as the consumption of individual’s identified data for corporate profiteering, digital surveillance, and cybersecurity breaches are many. Often these stories focus on the violation of individual’s digital and civil rights. Frequently these violations are most egregiously perpetrated on the most vulnerable citizens in society. However, there is a simultaneous awareness of the power of digital tools and strategies for policy advocacy and community empowerment. Digital tools offer unique opportunities for improving services and increasing access to resources for individuals who are live on the fringes of society, namely homeless people. The rapid advancement of digital technology tools including hardware ~ smart phone devices, digital personal assistants, smart watches and internet of things tools, as well as faster overall computing power, coupled with software in the forms of mobile applications (apps) which use location data to power algorithms for everything from health care decision making to retail choices and options, now presents itself as a constellation of tools which can be deployed for greater inclusion for a range of formerly voiceless populations. The some of these new strategies partner with the community or consumers/service users directly to create apps, new services and digitally enhanced programs, often called civic technologies or social good technology tools.

Slavery in the Bronx: Mapping, Advocacy, and Genealogy in a Digital Public History Project

Adam Arenson
Manhattan College

This short paper draws on the experience of the community-engaged learning course on Slavery in the Bronx at Manhattan College. This digital public history course began by learning about the unmarked slave burial grounds in both Drake Park, in Hunts Point, and in Van Cortlandt Park, a former wheat plantation, and the work done to date by fourth-grade students, their teachers, Van Cortlandt House Museum curators, and dedicated local historians. Manhattan College students worked to map the sites of slavery in today’s Bronx, and conducted genealogical research to find descendants of those once enslaved in the Bronx. This paper discusses their progress to date, plans for another version of the class this fall, the legacies of slavery that are often forgotten in northern states, the ongoing injustices facing residents of the Kingsbridge and Hunts Point neighborhoods, and the chance for these acts of memorialization to provide a foundation for critiquing injustice, then and now.

Towards a situated mapping: visualizing urban inequality between the god trick and strategic positivism

Taylor Shelton
Mississippi State University

This paper asks, and seeks to answer, the question: what makes mapping critical? I argue that most examples of ‘doing’ critical mapping tend to fall into one of two camps with very different manifestations, goals and assumptions. The first of these groups takes inspiration from Donna Haraway’s invocation of – and desire to counteract – what she calls the ‘god trick’ of ostensible technoscientific objectivity, reworking the map in order to challenge its privileged epistemological position. The second group seeks to leverage the ostensible objectivity of maps and quantitative data to prove the existence of social inequality in the spirit of what the geographer Elvin Wyly has called ‘strategic positivism’. The rest of the paper argues, however, that these two positions are not mutually exclusive, and that practitioners of critical mapping need not choose between the twin imperatives of stabilizing our understanding of the objectivity of cartographic knowledge and taking advantage of such a pervasive understanding in order to produce more just social and spatial outcomes. It is possible to simultaneously use maps to prove that inequality exists and that space matters, while also demonstrating that the ways we conventionally think about space through maps aren’t really sufficient to understand what’s actually going on in the world. Using examples from my own research on mapping the relational geographies of concentrated poverty and affluence in Lexington, Kentucky, I demonstrate one possible example of what such an approach to situated mapping might look like.

Visualising Everyday Colonial Commemoration: Digitally Mapping Settler-Colonial Commemoration

Bryan Smith
James Cook University

In this paper presentation, using the example of a small Australian city, I argue that the naming practices that give form to local cartographies serves to render colonial dominion over space and the past seemingly part of the natural spatial order. Inspired by Maoz Azaryahu’s (2009a; 2009b) notion of the “city-text” – the idea that the odonymic (street naming) selections in a community narrate a particular historical story of the past – I explore how settler contexts use and create mapped space as a commemorative stage, one where colonial might is written into the spatial backdrop of everyday life. To illustrate this, I present a web based map that plots out and surfaces the colonial naming and “city-text” of Townsville, Queensland to demonstrate and critique the symbolic and material normalisation of settler conquest and what historian Tim Stanley (2009) calls the “banality of colonialism” in everyday life. Further, I argue that this has meaningful consequences for how we anchor historical narrative into place; by writing conquest into every (literal) corner of the urban landscape, place comes to glorify European efforts at dispossession and the resultant Indigenous “ontological homelessness” (Moreton-Robinson 2003; Watson 2009).

Vulnerable Bodies: Relations of visibility in the speculative smart city

Debra Mackinnon
University of Calgary

sava saheli singh
University of Ottawa

From wearables, IoT sensors, apps, platforms and cameras, we “shed” various forms of data as we navigate our increasingly networked and smart environments. Recent discussions of urban data have focused on post collection practices of translation and circulation – following data threads, journeys and exhaust as they enact urban life. We seek to further complicate these thick data accounts focusing on movement, bodies and embodiment. As our bodies become information, the accuracy and affordances of these data portraits remain critical sites of inquiry. How do surveillance technologies, map, render and perform human and non-human interactions; moreover, exacerbate injustice? In this paper, adding to the rich discussions of future-ing, anticipatory imaginaries and implications on the urbanite body, we offer a critical interrogation of the oligoptic gaze and the relations and politics of visibility. We do this through the narrative of Frames [] – a speculative near future account of mapping a body through the various lenses of a smart city. Focused on what is included (and excluded) from the “frame”, we navigate domains of aesthetics and politics in order to foreground the embodied experiences, decisions and interactions which are mapped by these surveillant spatial locative technologies. We contend these renderings or simulacra of a ‘singular’ knowledge politic serve to stabilize and normalize ways of seeing, knowing and control. Yet, these rationalities are irrational – potentially producing inefficient, inaccurate and unjust portraits.

Who’s map? Everyday actions of spatial data resistance

Craig M. Dalton
Hofstra University

Jim Thatcher
University of Washington-Tacoma

Data is the lifeblood of mapping. Without it, even the most rhetorically powerful lacks substance. Recent counter-mapping by groups like the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project and Argentina’s Iconoclasistas reveal how data can be powerfully repurposed in the right setting. In contrast, personal location data, whether big data or data science, tends to be the tool of major corporations and governmental initiatives, from Facebook to Google, the New York Police Department to the Chinese social credit system. Popular media suggest that people have little input or ability to influence how they are mapped and profiled, and subsequently advertised to or their movements blocked. In this paper, we seek to survey how people actively and passively resist and/or shape the collection and use of their personal location information, a form of everyday counter-mapping, as people attempt to exert influence over their data. We develop a typology of strategies of how people engage the production and use of their personal geographic data: acceptance, active resistance, making present, and escape. By identifying and cohesively conceptualizing such strategies, we aim to develop a series of approaches to exert more control over spatial data about oneself. We focus on strategies for two reasons. First, modes of resistance are highly contextual in terms of the political and social processes at work. Second, discrete technical efforts, such as turning off your phone’s GPS or using a VPN, can be quickly rendered obsolete or circumvented as technologies change in the continuing arms race of privacy and data capitalism. The strategies we hope to shed light on can adapt their specific implementations, remaining relevant and useful as conditions shift.