So we are going to all these places, learning about different ways of representing experience and place. As part of this we have come across different ways of representing space (and time, but more on this later). We have come across all kinds of maps. based on different values and priorities, tellings and experiences of history and forms of literacy. It has been fun and rewarding to read the world through these maps in so many ways!
In this page we want to give a taste of this diversity of maps and mapping we came across.
This first one is an interactive map shows were we have been (with links to the places we have visited) and where we are (hopefully!) going.
Enlivened Learning site visits in a larger map
On Exactitude in Science
…In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.Suarez Miranda,Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658
Across our journey we have constantly encountered, made use of, learnt and talked about maps of various kinds. Sometimes maps were just mundane utilitarian technologies, whether on paper or computer screen, that helped us navigate through an unknown terrain. Other times we considered the cultural and political meanings of these curious ways of registering and imposing order on the land. Mapmaking was called the science of princes in a previous age, clearly expressing how the registering and control of space tend to coincide. The power to map, and enforce the map, is the power to make borders, name places, towns and cities, rivers, mountains, entire seas, or change then from the names that were there before.
On Canadian maps we saw the older and current day contours of First Nation territories shrinking from a vast area that included most if Alberta and some of Montana to a patchwork of small reserves. We saw maps made by the Blackfoot to draw their traditional territory, land use and their sacred sites, which fall now mostly outside their reserve and to which they were forbidden to go without government permission for many decades.
In Victoria we chanced upon an exhibition of ancient maps at the Royal Museum of British Columbia. Here we saw the combination of ‘myth and geography’ as one of the labels put it, in early European maps where, alongside a rudimentary attempt to draw the world we find biblical characters and the imagined monsters found in distant lands. But to speak of ‘myth and geography’ suggests that the maps we moderns use are objective, accurate simulations of the world ‘as it is’, free from our own myths or mediations. As the tale quoted above, by Jorge Luis Borges the Argentinian writer from the first half of the twentieth century, there is an absurdity in this illusion of ever-more-faithful mapping of the world. Even the most accurate satellite image maps showing the close up of our streets are still a register, mediated, which we learn how to read or decipher. They are maps that emerge from our own cosmovision (a way of seeing, knowing and being in the universe) in which various sciences and a series of visualising and information and communication technologies play a key role.
Over the last few years we have become more interested in different kinds of maps, not only those that represent geographic space, but also those which try to map different kinds of relationships, concepts, experiences in a diagrammatic way. There is a wonderful amount of experimentation with maps out there, below are some of the maps we have we come found through our journey and some examples of creative mapping and sites on mapping we enjoyed.