Research on maps for other economies -- anyone up for interviewing?


(Tuomo Alhojärvi) #1

Hi all,

I’ve been silent on this forum and the TransforMap process for a long time due to various reasons. Many things going on here in Finland on this front, and a more-than-full-time job to try and juggle with. This has meant my contribution in this project has unfortunately been very limited.

Anyway, now, I’m happy to have found another route to contribute, at least potentially and hopefully. As part of my PhD research in Human Geography (at the University of Oulu), I’m studying how mapping is used as a strategy for other economies around the world (from TransforMap to green maps, from Intermapping to various solidarity economy projects, etc). I’m most interested in how mapping itself is challenged, reimagined and reinvented in this process. This flows from the premise that we can’t just take a tool (for instance, the map) and turn it against power, as if it were just an innocent instrument and nothing more, but instead need to continuously challenge the very nature of that tool. I see this kind of challenging being done in different ways in different projects – in all the processes that try to take back the map by reinventing it thoroughly.

As part of this project I will be interviewing mappers in different projects. I’m now searching for people in the TransforMap community who would like to share their views on mapping and all of its benefits, contradictions, promises and pitfalls. I’ve already bothered @Silke and @alabaeye a bit, and so far they didn’t seem to object to my approach. :wink: I’m interested in the practical things you’ve learnt during the TransforMap process – but also the more general political analysis that your work with maps is based on. What are maps for? How can they be used? What do they help us to do? How might they fail us? And how do they need to be reinvented?

To be sure, the point is not to extract information and give nothing back. I’m doing this work from the perspective of an activist in Finland and within the wider community, for the benefit – I surely hope! – of our common efforts to build other economies. If you have ideas on how researching and writing would/could/should help the concrete efforts, I’m happy to hear any suggestions. Also, one thing in the back of my mind is something we recently talked about with @alabaeye, namely how to draw lessons from the TransforMap process for future mapping projects. Maybe this is something that needs to be discussed within the community in the future, and perhaps what arises during these interviews could provide insights for that.

So, if you’d be interested to talk with me by Skype in the coming weeks, please respond either here, by private message or by email (tuomo.alhojarvi@oulu.fi). Also, if you have doubts, comments or further questions about this project, don’t hesitate to ask.


Social Network Analysis
(Jon Richter) #2

This is indeed a core question about critical mapping. Yet I have to disappoint you probably, as the means of neogeographic cartographies is often confined to be merely producing voluntary geographic information. Our approach has been formulated by @gandhiano in:

The practical things you mention happen a lot in the background and concern the maintenance of the IT infrastructure, but also the collective modelling of the monetary processes around the commons. @Simon_Sarazin was so kind to outline this in:

These questions were (unfortunately?) never at the core of our investigations. Since critical thinking it is not part of our group process, we would have to gently introduce it. Any ideas how this can be done within a non-academic audience?

The Intermapping process you mentioned earlier has decidedly set out to take care of maintaining the:


(Tuomo Alhojärvi) #3

Hi Jon,

Thanks for your response and for the insights and links! I’ve been following the development of this project, and think that some really important steps have been initiated and concepts clarified during the process – as demonstrated e.g. by these documents you linked. You ask:

I actually do think that the forum is full of critical thinking and debate! But of course also a big deal of it is not documented, and sometimes not documentable in the first place.

Perhaps also the issues I brought up with my questions here have been dealt with, along the process, with different names and words, different ways of posing the questions. I do not want to propose that my conceptualisation makes more sense in general, but it’s just my way of trying to translate and generalise a bit (& to be updated as we proceed).

But all of this remains to be seen, and I wait eagerly to get to talk to you and others in order to learn more. Perhaps, and hopefully, then, a better understanding will materialise on how we could keep on bringing these themes forward in a concrete manner.

Anyway, let’s try to settle an interview, Jon, and bring things forward! And if others read this and get interested, please do be in contact since I’d very much want to chat with you.


(Philipp Daniel Unger) #4

Hey Tuomo,
This was a great interview!
Thanks for your interest.
If you want you can share anykind of dokumentation here in the discourse forum.

Philipp ><<


(Tuomo Alhojärvi) #5

Hi Philipp,

It was great indeed, thank you again! I’ll just share this one mapping project I mentioned I was studying a bit, called Notes for a People’s Atlas (https://peoplesatlas.com/). Not really having to do with alt.economies or the commons (at least not explicitly…), but I find their pedagogical method of/with the blank map highly inspiring! Let’s keep in touch!