AAG 2009 Report Back: Where have all the pictures gone?

Craig and Liz’s second AAG presentation was on the panel: “Where have all the pictures gone? Visualization and power in political geography”.

A quick summary: after thoroughly deconstructing maps – showing how maps reflect and enact power, construct borders, inflict violence, etc., critical geographers are now unable to produce their own maps. A case of deconstruction gone too far? Does recognizing the always political nature of maps mean that that cartography now lies outside of the realm of academics? It certainly means we can no longer pretend to be disengaged and disinterested intellectuals (as if we ever could!)

Luckily, we don’t have to wait for academic geographers – the combat of the cartographies is on! In our presentation we showed some examples (maps!) of how social movements are engaging cartography. Here are a few:

Aquí viven genocidas by el Grupo de Arte Callejero
Tactical Cartography of the Straits by Hackitectura
A People’s Guide to the RNC

We hope geographers located in academia will follow their example (as many are already!) We know how powerful of a tool maps are – and so does capital and the state – so it’s up to us to make better maps, to map new worlds and new forms of power, to create maps that are more just, more useful and more fun.

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