Mapped to see: A project on the productive value of mapping in research
by Martina Bovo (Post-Doc researcher, Dept. Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano) and Dounia Salamé (PhD Candidate, Dept. Architecture, KU Leuven).
Mapping is increasingly being used outside its usual disciplinary boundaries of geography, urban planning, and architecture. As a result, more and more interdisciplinary research projects attempt to integrate elements of mapping in their methodologies and dissemination. Mapped to See was born from the encounter of some of these projects with us, Martina Bovo and Dounia Salamé, which sprung the interest of exploring empirically why and how mapping can be a useful tool for research. These projects, presented below, all have a link with the Department of Anthropology of KULeuven, where Martina was an invited scholar during the Fall of 2021, and are concerned primarily with newcomer arrival infrastructures in Europe. They also all integrate some elements of mapping and spatialising in their methodologies, with ReROOT being the most explicit about aiming to use its case studies as pilots in the production of a toolkit for mapping methods in migration research.
Once projects are launched, multiple questions arise around using mapping methods for research, whether practical, technical, theoretical, or ethical. Mapped to See sought to clarify these questions and to use them to start unpacking the productive value of integrating a spatial perspective in social sciences research.
For Mapped to See, we first sought to clarify the main questions arising from the impulse to use mapping in research. For this, we organised a series of group discussions (which we called “dialogues”) with researchers working on arrival infrastructures who are integrating mapping in their work. These researchers were involved in the projects ReROOT, UnLock-Newcomers literacy trajectories: mapping and monitoring literacy learning practices, processes and strategies in formal, non-formal and informal spheres, and AIMEC- Arrival Infrastructures and Migrant Newcomers in European Cities.
Then, we brought their questions and interrogations to practitioners (researchers, curators, mappers, artists) who have used mapping in different ways in their work, and opened up the discussion beyond the published finished project to address the process, the draft, and the practicalities of making maps about migration issues. We are very grateful to Jan Rothuizen, Sarah Mekdjian, Ahmad Gharbieh, Monica Basbous, Olivier Clochard, and Anna Scheuermann who accepted to show us their drafts, to tell us about their dilemmas and failures leading to the beautiful polished published maps.
We gathered the interviews with mapping practitioners and our notes about them in a Mapped to See Notebook as well as a Podcast, both of which you can find on this page. In addition, the results of the project will be published in a forthcoming academic article.
Don’t hesitate to write us for more info or available material:
Martina Bovo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dounia Salamé: email@example.com
The Mapped to See project was organised in collaboration with Profs Karel Arnaut (Dept. Anthropology, KU Leuven), Luce Beeckmans (Dept. Architecture, KU Leuven) and Bruno Meeus (Dept. Anthropology, KU Leuven)