Category: Session 6: Critical Histories

(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.

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.