"We Drew What We Imagined"

Bjørn Ingmunn Sletto
2009 Current Anthropology  
Participatory mapping has emerged as a dominant paradigm in participatory approaches to international planning, conservation management, and community development in the Global South and is considered a technology with emancipatory potentials for subordinate or marginalized groups. However, the literature on community-based mapping has been criticized for its dualistic approach to power, culture, and the local and for reifying material and discursive forms of domination operating through
more » ... projects such as development and global environmentalism. An ethnographic engagement with mapping projects conducted in Trinidad in the fall of 1998 and in Venezuela from 2001-2004 provides a deeper understanding of participatory-mapping workshops as theaters for the performance and negotiation of identities, reflecting the complex articulations between global, political-economic processes and desires for place and belonging. Ultimately, this critical reading indicates an urgent need for greater reflexivity in the application of participatory-mapping approaches. What we drew on our map, was all we knew, to the limit of our knowledge. We have drawn places we have heard about but that I have never been to. I have never seen Rio Arapopo. What we have put down is imaginary. But much is missing still. -Rosa Emilia Fernández
doi:10.1086/593704 fatcat:u7glchdmrjcv3l3r6a6tyqoziu