Deorienting the Map: Alternative Cartographies for Alternative Futures

satellite map

Year: 2022-2023
Research Team Type: Faculty-Led
Team Organizer: Clancy Wilmott
Disciplines: New media, Indigenous geographies, political science, geography, software engineering/design, cartography, development studies, environmental science, geomorphology, geology, traditional ecological knowledges

“Deorienting the Map” is a Matrix Research Team that aims to explore the possibilities and limitations of reimagining an open source, user-focused geographic information system based on the principles of decolonization, anti-racism, accessibility, localization, and sovereignty. A combination of faculty and graduate students, the team will explore the histories and legacies of colonial cartographic and geographic information science, with emphasis on ideas and resistance to colonial thinking that have emerged in Indigenous spatial philosophies from across the world, through mapping, storytelling and “savage philosophy” (Braken, 2007).

Digital mapping is necessarily interdisciplinary, and this research team brings together a cross-disciplinary set of researchers, with a view to building further networks beyond the social sciences. The researchers will use the funding to establish a research team to read, research and seek collaborators and design a funding application for an interdisciplinary research workshop to establish connections between different disciplines and stakeholders (including community groups, academics, and engineers). The aims of this workshop are to ask if — and if so, how — could we reimagine digital mapping as a tool for advocacy, sovereignty, and decolonization beyond the superficial data layer of the map, and into the cartography itself. This includes questions of projection and orientation, toponymy, and language; feature generalization and attributes; as well as sovereignty, decolonization, and reclamation.

Image: Satellite map. Photo by USGS on Unsplash