Citizen Mapping as Resistance Practice

Ned Prutzer (PhD Student, Institute of Communications Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Clarifications

Citizen science mapping can (and has often been) framed the other way

Clarifications

Citizen science mapping can (and has often been) framed the other way

  • Mapping as practice?

Clarifications

Citizen science mapping can (and has often been) framed the other way

  • Mapping as practice?

  • Mapping as resistance?

Clarifications

“For example, the Invaders of Texas (http://www.texasinvasives.org/invaders/), the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE; http://nbii-nin.ciesin.columbia.edu/ipane/), Wisconsin NatureMapping (http://www.wisnatmap.org/, EDDMapS (http://www.eddmaps.org/), the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow (CoCoRaHS; http://www.cocorahs.org/) network, Water Action Volunteers (http://water-monitoring.uwex.edu/wav/), OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org), eBird (http://ebird.org/content/ebird/), wikimapia (http://wikimapia.org/), and EarthTrek (http://www.goearthtrek.com/) are just a few of the many websites now supporting citizen science and citizen-based activities”

Clarifications

“Many of these websites use Google Maps technology, interact with the Google Earth desktop application, and disseminate citizen-contributed geographic information using interactive web mapping applications.”

Clarifications

Citizen science mapping can (and has often been) framed the other way

  • Mapping as practice?

  • Mapping as resistance?

Clarifications

Citizen science mapping can (and has often been) framed the other way

BUT, the lay cartographer can also play the role of the dissenter

Clarifications

Citizen science mapping can (and has often been) framed the other way

BUT, the lay cartographer can also play the role of the dissenter

  • Tactical biopolitics

Clarifications

Citizen science mapping can (and has often been) framed the other way

BUT, the lay cartographer can also play the role of the dissenter

  • Tactical biopolitics

  • Toxic tourism

Clarifications

Citizen science mapping can (and has often been) framed the other way

Citizen interventions in mapping are also nothing new

Clarifications

Citizen science mapping can (and has often been) framed the other way

Citizen interventions in mapping are also nothing new

My reading recognizes these facets, but also attends to how citizen science mapping can be construed as a resistant practice.

Clarifications

Citizen science mapping can (and has often been) framed the other way

Citizen interventions in mapping are also nothing new

My reading recognizes these facets, but also attends to how citizen science mapping can be construed as a resistant practice.

My argument: Citizen science mapping is resistant in that it counters notions of human exceptionalism and recognizes the role of embodied practice and the ecological perspective in producing scientific knowledge

Recognizing Embodied Practice

Scientific objectivity is a historically constructed epistemic virtue.

Recognizing Embodied Practice

Scientific objectivity is a historically constructed epistemic virtue.

The shift from truth-to-nature to mechanical objectivity in 19th century scientific perspectives exemplifies this.

Recognizing Embodied Practice

Scientific objectivity is a historically constructed epistemic virtue.

The shift from truth-to-nature to mechanical objectivity in 19th century scientific perspectives exemplifies this.

Under mechanical objectivity, any interference was deemed deceptive, requiring distance from the object of study.

Recognizing Embodied Practice

“Grassroots maps are made by attaching a cheap, approximately $60 digital camera to a balloon filled with helium or a kite. The camera is contained inside a homemade housing that is built on site, generally using plastic soda or juice bottles. The tethered balloon is then flown at between 1000 and 2000 feet in the air, with the camera snapping pictures as it travels. The resultant images are thereafter stitched into large-scale maps with the help of Photoshop or free and open-source software developed by Public Lab.” (119)

An Ecological Perspective

Susan Leigh Star’s ecological perspective is critical for the study of citizen science.

An Ecological Perspective

Susan Leigh Star’s ecological perspective is critical for the study of citizen science.

In an ecological framework, situated knowledge becomes an avenue of avoiding presumption.

An Ecological Perspective

Susan Leigh Star’s ecological perspective is critical for the study of citizen science.

In an ecological framework, situated knowledge becomes an avenue of avoiding presumption.

The ecological, then, is in itself resistant.

An Ecological Perspective

“In grassroots mapping, the tools themselves become vectors for analyzing local conditions, but also provoke unexpected connections in the field. For instance, on a balloon mapping expedition in Louisiana, Wylie noticed spider webs that had caught all the way up the line connected to the balloon, forming a shimmering silk ladder as far as the eye could see. Without the line in the air above them, the mappers would never have noticed the spider webs flying around them. This experience provoked new questions about the surrounding ecosystem and reemphasized that these are dynamic inhabited spaces. In this case the mapping apparatus became a tool for learning.”

References

“About Us,” YardMap, retrieved from http://content.yardmap.org/about-us/.

Anna Tsing, “Unruly Edges: Mushrooms as Companion Species,” retrieved from http://tsingmushrooms.blogspot.com/.

Beatriz da Costa and Kavita Philip, Tactical Biopolitics: Art, Activism, and Technoscience, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008.

Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007.

Giovanna Di Chiro, “Beyond Ecoliberal ‘Common Futures’: Environmental Justice, Toxic Touring, and a Transcommunal Politics of Place.” In Donald S. Moore, Anand Pandian, Jake Kosek, Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference: Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

Martin Dodge, Rob Kitchin and Chris Perkins, eds., The Map Reader: Theories of Mapping Practice and Cartographic Representation, Chichester: Wiley, 2011.

Trisha Gura, “Citizen Science: Amateur Experts,” Nature 496 (2013), 259-261.

References

Deborah Lupton, Digital Sociology, Routledge, 2014.

Greg Newman, Don Zimmerman, Alycia Crall, Melinda Laituri, Jim Graham, and Linda Stapel, “User-friendly Web Mapping: Lessons from a Citizen Science Website,” International Journal of Geographical Information Science 24.12 (2010), 1851-1869.

Jerald L. Schnoor, “Citizen Science,” Environmental Science & Technology 41.17 (2007), 5923.

James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.

Susan Leigh Star, ed., Ecologies of Knowledge: Work and Politics in Science and Technology, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

Sara Ann Wylie, Kirk Jalbert, and Shannon Dosemagen, “Institutions for Civic Technoscience,” The Information Society 30 (2014).

Thanks!

Ned Prutzer (PhD Student, Institute of Communications Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Website: scalingsubjects.net

Twitter: @scalingsubjects