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Creative mapping

Participatory maps are created using the physical materials of the local landscape, and resources are highlighted as points on the map using objects from people's livelihoods.

– Collecting data
– Global sustainability issues
– Geographical Information Systems

Experience has shown me that working creatively with people in an informal, outdoor setting is the best way to elicit data, engage with community issues, and give people a voice. In my mapping workshops, the tools are participants’ own hands, camera or phone, and voice – not pens and paper. More often than not, maps are created using the physical materials of the local landscape as in the description of the 2-day workshop below.

Timur Jack-Kadioglu, Mwambao Coastal Community Network, Zanzibar:

“Creative and participatory methods, while without their justified criticism of occasionally being blind to power dynamics, can play a powerful role in creating a scenario where the most marginalised voices in a community can be heard. Compared with more ‘traditional’ research settings like workshops or focus group discussions, creative methods can foster a neutral space where the barriers of existing social structures are softened. In the case of the Coral Communities work, a number of women played a dominant role in the creation of the representation of their physical geography on the beach, in one instance overruling a decision made by men. As a conservative, patriarchal society, women’s roles in mixed-gender workshops and focus groups on Zanzibar are often more restricted due to the leading role of men in public life. As the creative methods used were ‘outside-of-the-box’ – both in terms of the scenario (compared with a focus group discussion) and the physical space (as opposed to sitting in a village committee site), we argue that they played a subtle role in disrupting gender cultural norms by increasing women’s engagement in the activity, and by extension their agency in the research process.”

Using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), I am now looking at translating such maps into digital base maps. I am also exploring how to translate feelings about the landscape into these base maps. Asking, how can this type of data sit with other point data like the name of shells found at a particular beach?

Zanzibar workshop on Fundo Island with the Coral Communities team and Mwambao Coastal Community Network. The community build a map of their island and then map its resources. Photograph Timur Jack-Kadioglu.

Zanzibar workshop on Fundo Island with the Coral Communities team and Mwambao Coastal Community Network. The community build a map of their island and then map its resources - they craft it with material found around them. Photograph Timur Jack-Kadioglu.

Zanzibar workshop on Fundo Island with the Coral Communities team and Mwambao Coastal Community Network. The community - men and women - build a map of their island and then map its resources. Photograph Timur Jack-Kadioglu.

Zanzibar workshop on Fundo Island with the Coral Communities team and Mwambao Coastal Community Network. The community build a map of their island and then map its resources. Photograph Timur Jack-Kadioglu.

Zanzibar workshop on Fundo Island with the Coral Communities team and Mwambao Coastal Community Network. The community talk about the map they have made together, interviewing each other about what they have described. Photograph Timur Jack-Kadioglu.

Zanzibar workshop on Fundo Island with the Coral Communities team and Mwambao Coastal Community Network. The community build a map of their island and then map its resources. Facilitator Ali Thani calls out the map is complete. Photograph Timur Jack-Kadioglu.