Map is not Territory (seminar background)

Recent developments in digital technology enable us to interweave satellite geo-positioning, regional data and local narratives to create maps of unprecedented complexity.

But these developments occur within a globalization which has hollowed out the resources of local knowledge and marginalised many communities of interest. As a result there is a growing tension between the enlarged scale of social networking through virtual media and the narrowing scope of ambition and opportunity navigated within the urban realm.

The divide between those plugged into the knowledge economy and those excluded has intensified. And while life journeys become ever harder to map with confidence (the postmodern condition), cartography as model and metaphor becomes increasingly more influential in the human sciences and popular culture.

Against this background the MAPISNOTTERRITORY seminar series aimed to bring together geographers and ethnographers, environmentalists and computer scientists, artists and writers, in a shared conversation around the possibilities of challenging panoptic and forensic cartographies which marginalize or pathologise populations perceived to be obstacles to ‘progress’,‘modernity’ or ‘public order’. It will also explore alternative strategies of ‘counter-mapping’.

Each session combines theoretical and practical presentations around a specific theme. The series is organised by LIVINGMAPS as part of a programme of initiatives designed to produce a re-mapping of East London’s past, present and future.