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Counter-Mapping Systems: Gesturing towards decoloniality in systems mapping

Format: Papers, RSD12, Topic: Mapping & Modelling, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Counter-Mapping Systems: Gesturing towards decoloniality in  systems mapping

Maryam Mohiuddin Ahmed, Dilek Sayedahmed, Tara Campbell,  Gryphon Theriault-Loubier, and Sean Geobey

Map-making is a central practice within systemic design. Systemic design projects routinely involve creating visual depictions of systems that are used to make sense of a systemic challenge and guide interventions. Systems maps, like most mainstream approaches to cartography, hold inherent and often unquestioned power. They foreground some narratives while obscuring others, they shape our understanding of systems and frame courses of action.

In our presentation, we draw on discourses from critical cartography and decolonial theory to begin sketching the outlines of a systems mapping practice that grapples with the power relations in which maps are entangled. We advocate for a critical approach to systems mapping that would “gesture towards decoloniality” (Andreotti, 2021) while acknowledging that 1) maps construct knowledge; 2) maps privilege some narratives over others; and 3) maps open possibilities for alternative futures. We have already been exploring critical systems mapping practices in our work with a social finance program funded by the Government of Canada. Through these explorations, we have come to a few departure points from traditional systems mapping: explicit authorship and information sources; plural and participatory narratives; purpose and audience statements; making “ugly” maps; mapping “what ought to/could be”, and more. We will expand on these departure points and their link to critical cartography and decolonial frameworks in our presentation. We hope that these may serve as initial provocations for systemic designers to draw inspiration from and critique as we, as a field, continue to develop decolonial approaches in order to further critical systems mapping practices and methods.

KEYWORDS: critical systems mapping, counter-mapping, critical cartography

RSD TOPIC(S): Mapping & Modelling, Methods & Methodology




Citation Data

Author(s): Maryam Mohiuddin Ahmed, Dilek Sayedahmed, Tara Campbell, Gryphon Theriault-Loubier, and Sean Geobey
Year: 2023
Title: Counter-Mapping Systems: Gesturing towards decoloniality in systems mapping
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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