"We Drew What We Imagined"
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
... 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