Counter-Mapping Actions as Militant Research

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* Article: Counter (Mapping) Actions: Mapping as Militant Research: Counter Cartographies Collective. Craig Dalton and Liz Mason-Deese. CME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 2012, 11(3),439-466



From the Conclusions:

"Autonomous cartography opens up possibilities for new forms of knowledge production and political change. As Colectivo Situaciones and Precarias a la Deriva show, militant research offers radical, situated methods of producing knowledge as political practice. Hackitectura's work demonstrates how social movements use mapping as part of a political project. In this paper, we lay out the theoretical foundations, cartographic practices and experiences of 3Cs, with the hope that it proves useful to others wishing to engage in similar projects of autonomous cartography.

By producing maps as militant research, autonomous cartography constitutes a conceptual framework for understanding and creating geographic and political change in the post-Fordist economy.

This work is premised on the idea that geographic knowledge and spatial innovation are created from movements and people engaged in struggle, thus giving rise to autonomous politics within the collective. 3Cs' experiences with autonomous cartography illustrate how mapping can function as a form of militant research, producing new knowledges and subjectivities, while also investigating and instigating political change. The mapping process itself enacts a different form of knowledge production that creates new social relations and geographies. In short, it is the initial cartography of an autonomous university. For 3Cs, this means not only producing new maps, but also creating new forms of social organization within and beyond the collective. These experiences highlight the importance of collaboration, trust, and careful consideration of the social context and ethics of t hat mapping research.

As autonomous cartography spreads to other organizing contexts, 3Cs worked with students at Queen Mary University in London to produce a counter map examining the relationship between international migrant flows and cognitive labor.

In recent months, 3Cs has led a series of workshops to share mapping skills with activists within and beyond the university on themes of gentrification and food justice. Around the world, new spaces of resistance and knowledge production are emerging as universities and communities face budget cuts and economic crises.

Simultaneously, the make-up of 3Cs itself is changing.

Several members are moving to different locations around the world, forcing us to rethink the locally-situated nature of our resear ch and develop new methods of collaboration across space and time.

Despite new contexts and challenges, 3Cs and others continue to explore the political possibilities of and, and, and... " (