Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry

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Cultural Mapping und Mapping Cultures

Articles Becoming an author Review copies. Cultural mapping, which spans many academic disciplines and methodologies, is informed by the observation that cultural phenomena are distributed spatially and that people experience the symbolic resources of their communities in spatial terms. While cultural mapping is firmly grounded in the world of academic disciplines and inquiry, it has a pragmatic dimension as well.

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In the Creative City Network of Canada's Cultural Mapping Toolkit, for example, Cultural Mapping is defined pragmatically as a process of collecting, recording, analyzing and synthesizing information in order to describe the cultural resources, networks, links and patterns of usage of a given community or group. Cultural mapping is generally regarded as a systematic tool to identify and record local cultural assetsand these assets are thought of as tangible or quantitative physical spaces, cultural organizations, public forms of promotion and self-representation, programs, cultural industries, natural heritage, cultural heritage, people, and resources and intangible or qualitative community narratives, values, relationships, rituals, traditions, history, shared sense of place.

Together these assets help define communities in terms of cultural identity, vitality, sense of place, and quality of life. Second, it is a method that is not just used as an academic method for inquiry, but also and perhaps even more so as a practical planning tool for communities as well as local authorities.

The volume contains contributions from a wide range of scholars, both those working directly with geography and those representing a broad range of disciplines. But what is cultural mapping then? Based on the book, it covers quite a variety of methods and practices, but with some commonalities.

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What Is Cultural Mapping?

The two are linked together not just because both of them have been fueled by technological development but also in their link to a discussion of power, wherein the power of defining the values of culture is central. Cultural mapping is thus not just linked to the tradition of cartography and thereby to a visual presentation of the spatial structures of a certain area and its resources, but also to the discussion of the power to define this.


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Based on these discussions linked with new technological possibilities for user-generated data the volume sees the method of cultural mapping as a collaborative practice. The book is divided into different sections, reflecting the variety of contributions. In the first section, focus is on a more systematic assessment of cultural mapping as a practice in cultural analysis and as a part of political planning processes. The most systematic methodological reflections over cultural mappings are found in this section. One of the ambitions of cultural mapping is to link culture more clearly to the general development of society via the planning approach: By providing analysis based on some of the same approaches as other policy areas, culture might be able to position itself more centrally in policy and planning discussions.

Cultural Mapping as Cultural Enquiry | publication | ASEF culture

This ambition of lifting culture out from its marginalization seems to be a shared ambition of the authors. In this way as it is explicitly stated in many of the articles the discussion of cultural mapping is directly linked to discussions of sustainability and the ways in which culture should be incorporated in sustainable developments see e. Dessein, Soini, Fairclough and Horlings Another ambition, directly linked to the participatory approach, is to use mapping as an empowering tool for communities that, through participatory mapping processes, are given the opportunity to define culture and values of culture and make this visible, also on a policy level.

This is especially an area of focus in the second part of the book, Platforms for Engagement and Knowledge Through Mapping.

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