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Maps and the materiality of movement        (F2)

Location Henry Thomas Room
Date and Time 12th April, 2007 at 16:30


Rodney Reynolds (University College, London)
Patrick Laviolette (Tallinn University)
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Short abstract

This panel explores the cultural use, interpretation and understanding of maps. In terms of the cartography of identity, the contributors of this panel will unravel certain dialectics that exist between the narrative construction of topographical discourse and the embodiment of spatial practice.

Long abstract

Maps are quintessential tools, symbols and artefacts for geographers and others interested in tourism studies. Heuristically they are important in research design and practice, often acting as representational devices for research outcomes. Despite a rapidly developing interest in visual culture and extra-discursive approaches to images, anthropologists have largely overlooked maps and mapping practices. They have tended to address maps and map-making tangentially, in relation to deciphering the ritualistic, navigational/wayfinding, mnemonic and artistic mappings of 'national' landscapes or socio-political territories. Growing out of concerns raised by Roy Wagner (1981) almost a generation ago, mapping and maps have metaphorical, spatial and artefact identities in and of themselves. This panel will address the broad expression of such identity and its nature through a series of ethnographically informed case studies. It will explore the broader cultural use, interpretation and understanding of cartographic objects. With reference to the relationship that exists between maps and identity, the contributors of this panel will unravel certain dialectics that exist between the narrative construction of topographical discourse and the embodiment of spatial practice.

Cartographic portraits condition, and are conditioned by, experiential journeys as well as social images that both project and reflect cultural identities. Such spatial projections embed notions of home, belonging and visitation into the fabric of individual and collective perceptions. The panellists of this session will thus attempt to highlight how maps themselves become powerful social agents, operating as material artefacts in the formulation of social connectedness. By investigating the embodied construction of belonging that takes place through maps and movement, we will be interested in outlining how residents and visitors frame their discursive, visual and sensorial experiences of place. Hence, one of our objectives will be to unpack some of the affective and haptic ways of gauging the interactions that people have with the visual imagery and iconography of maps. Our task will therefore be to present ethnographically informed interdisciplinary methods for understanding maps that chart particular worldviews and lifeworlds of different social groups and groupings. Conceivably, this occurs through a diversity of mapping practices which in cultural terms can perhaps be usefully defined as 'anthropographic'.

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Mud cloth maps: the objectification of tourism in the Dogon Land (Mali/West Africa)

Author(s): Laurence Douny 


This paper explores the cultural use of maps in the Malian Dogon Land as an expression of local identity. I examine here maps that are printed on bogolan (mud cloth) and which objectify the Bandiagara escarpment. This constitutes a highly touristified place classified in 1989 by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site. I look at the commodification process of the Dogon landscape through maps as objects of tourism. These decorative artefacts that hang on the walls in local hostels or in the village tourist shops, trace down the itinary of the tourists alongside the escarpment. Hence, I shall examine the aspect of Dogon mapping practice as well as the embodied experience of the place by the tourists through the use of these maps that guide and canalise their movement.

Maps and models: material bodies in Europe

Author(s): Maryon McDonald 


This paper addresses directly the issue of maps and materiality but in a slightly different way. Maps and models of various kinds have long been important in understanding the material world in Europe and America and have had an important place in fields often deemed, within an Enlightenment tradition, to be metaphorically opposed: for example, cultural identity construction and scientific practice. The sober practice of scientific anatomy is one example chosen here, juxtaposed with the festive regional dancing of Celts, to address some of the issues involved.

Choreography of the hands: transmitting knowledge through mapping embodied movements

Author(s): Nicolette Makovicky 


This paper examines the schematic notation of movement as a form of non-verbal knowledge essential for knowledge transmission in craft practice. A case study of the bobbin lace making conducted in Central Slovakia shows how paper patterns bearing instructions for the construction of lace designs are in fact a type of cartographic object. Bobbin lace is made though the weaving or plaiting of threads using wooden bobbins in repetitious, rhythmical sets of movements: physical activity is choreographed to produce a material expression. However, because of the embodied nature of craft knowledge and the haptic nature of skill appropriation through apprenticeship and experience, lace makers often have a hard time adequately verbalizing instructions. Consequently, their attempts to record and transmit weaves and designs take a form of a schematic representation of movement. Interestingly, unlike knitting or crocheting patterns, these aides are visual and record a movement in space, rather than simply listing a sequence of movements. In the process of creating the design, threads are plaited around needles that are inserted into a stiff cardboard template pre-punched with rows of holes. This template acts as the surface that is worked upon to create the lace, making lace fabrication appear logically as the manipulation of space. Thus, this paper forms an initial enquiry into how a form of embodied bodily technique can be 'read' by, and transmitted to, other bodies. Secondly, it probes the boundaries of our understanding of the nature of spatial practices, suggesting the possibility that mapping as a cognitive exercise is a pervasive element of everyday practice.

e-paper Contouring and contesting Cornishness

Author(s): Patrick Laviolette 


With reference to the relationship that exists between maps and identity in Britain's Cornish peninsula, this paper explores the dialectics between discourse and practice. It claims that cartographic portraits condition, and are conditioned by, experiential journeys as well as social images which both project and reflect cultural identities. Such spatial projections embed notions of home and belonging into the fabric of individual and collective perceptions of the region. The paper therefore highlights some of the more affective ways of gauging the interactions that people have with the visual imagery and iconography of maps. By revealing how its distinctive contour typically stands as a symbolic form of local representation, it suggests that the very shape of Cornwall emphasises cultural distinction. Moreover, by investigating the embodied construction of belonging that takes place through map outlines, I am ultimately interested in evaluating how residents and visitors frame their discursive, visual and sensorial experiences of place. This, I argue, occurs through a diversity of mapping practices which are interesting in spatial, social and cross-cultural terms.

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e-paper Mapping interstitial space

Author(s): Rodney Reynolds 


During the period of my fieldwork (2003-2004), navigable maps of Panama City and other cities and towns were not commercially available. The mathematical representation of space cartographically in a standard fold-out map is often understood as a substitute for embodied, local, vernacular knowledge. A map's format and scale are two objective built-in limits of design that impact the navigable utility of a map. While acknowledging the role maps may play in wide ranging political projects, a subjective limit imposed on maps publicly available in Panama is the rendering of locations such that they are represented as views but in a map format. The shift from map to view emphasizes subjective, visually enframed vernacular knowledge over the visual representation of mathematical knowledge. This shift is rendered in Panama's maps through bounded areas that represent absences; streets are not shown, areas are not named. Wayfinding and planning possible routes with such a tool is restricted and difficult, suggesting navigation is not what they are for. The functional utility of maps in Panama, which is common with many other places, is not at issue; instead, one is led to question in what way maps are and enable vernacular knowledge rather than stand as a substitute for it. As such, maps in Panama are material artefacts visually apprehended that are performed objectifications of social and cultural (self) representation. These points will be explored with reference to fold-out maps of Panama City and to Las Piedras Pintadas (The Painted Rocks) a map carved and painted into the face of a rock in the Panamanian community, La Pintada, El Valle de Antón.

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e-paper Psychogeographies and the experience of scripted heritage

Author(s): Matthew Cochran 


[E-PAPER] Heritage tourism sites use forms of material culture as a means of creating brand recognition. These forms, be they maps, postcards, brochures or stock photographs not only draw attention to elements of the particular site that are seen as delineating it's significance of place, but also seek to affect a scripting of the site's experience on the part of visitors. Visitors are guided to seek out particular elements of a heritage site that they have seen in tourist material culture, affecting in part what has been termed a 'tourist gaze'. The results of this process is an experience of place that can be said to be real-and-imagined; real in that the site is experienced phenomenologically in the present, and imagined in the sense that there is a pre-cognized vision of the site that is enacted through the consumption of tourist material culture.

Using mostly maps of the heritage site of Annapolis, Maryland as a case example, this paper seeks to complicate this process by drawing out a dialectic based on the experience of place from the views of tourists and residents of the historic district. Issues addressed within the paper will focus on the materiality of tourist literature and the scripting of a tourist experience within the heritage district; psychogeographies of the historic district as experienced by long term residents; and the political problems that emerge through Annapolis' contested definition as a heritage place.

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e-paper Spatial stories: mapping the social relations of power on 19th century OS maps of Ireland

Author(s): Angele Smith 


In 'Practice of Everyday Life' (1984) de Certeau examines the binary opposition between maps and tours, where the static and fixed portrayal on the map represents the colonial and scientific control over and appropriation of the landscape, while the dynamic and sensory tour is the lived experience of moving through and knowing a landscape. Yet, what this discounts is that the act of 'using' and 'knowing' a map is itself a spatial story. It is a journey of the experience of reading and walking with the map. Applying a hermeneutic approach to de Certeau's maps and tours we are better able to recognize the multiplicity of perceptions, readings and understandings of the map (and the landscape). In doing so, we thus challenge the interpretation of the colonial map as having uncontested and complete control over the representation of landscape and the social relations of place. In the 19th c. the British Ordnance Survey undertook an enormous mapping project of Ireland. The purpose of the survey was to aid the reformation of the county taxation system but the mapping also served the goal of gathering cultural information and producing images of the Irish landscape, its people and its past in the exacting scale of six map inches for every mile. As an army of British soldier surveyors arrived in Ireland, a complex web of social relations and interactions became scripted on the local landscape and ultimately on the map document. Looking at the actors involved in the making of the map, we better understand the multiplicity of the, sometimes conflicting, motivations and perspectives -colonial/national/local - that shaped the map and its use, creating tours or spatial stories of the mapping process.

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e-paper Tourist artefacts and temporal maps: the ageing in place study of seniors' homes

Author(s): Adam Drazin 


Mapping is seen for the purposes of this presentation as an exercise of making explicit what Gell refers to as "enacted texts", existing at the confluence between implicit physicalised understandings and representation. This process may involve the collapsing of spatial orders and experience into temporal orders.

This paper, based on the Ageing in Place project, involved an ethnographic study of the material culture of elderly homes in Ireland, conducted by anthropologists in the Digital Health Group based at Intel Ireland in 2006. The study concerns the notion of the material production of the elderly home in relation to the experience of ageing, and involved creative 'design exercises' to map possible envisaged futures through objects. In a home for a presumed, but often unspecified, life experience of 'old age', tourist experiences and artefacts can play a key part. At key moments of ageing experience, such objects as souvenirs and tourist mementoes can be appropriated in a fashion which implies that the spatial experience of life is re-represented in a home whose prime quality is its temporality, negotiating frames of permanence or transience. Creative design exercises, aimed at the production of temporal maps using domestic objects, were found in some peoples' lives to incorporate tourist artefacts as permanent features of homes envisaged as locales for permenent retirement.

The production of temporal maps provoked negotiations in different homes, proving incomplete and impossible for some objects and in some homes, but more assured in others. The notion of the artefact as tourist expresses both the role of the object as agent in such 'engaged' ethngoraphy, and the role of material culture in spatio- temporal mapping.

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