Community Mapping

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Community mapping is best characterized as a collaborative mapping exercise, in which local voices are articulated, as against standardized modes of mapping, which have historically frequently reflected more top-down or expert forms of knowledge. As such it is in theory participatory, inclusive, and appropriate to local needs, interests, and goals. In theory as well it should be accountable and transparent, ethical, and sensitive to sociocultural, political, and economic contexts. Frequently, of course, these laudable principles are not always realized. This bibliography excludes metaphorical use of the term, which has frequently been used to describe a technique in the social sciences relating to aspects of a place, but without direct spatial mapping. So community mapping documented here represents a series of mapping practices, frequently deployed as maps of stakeholder views, which chart local concerns, but with a clear geographic and spatial relationship to the place being mapped. This kind of community enterprise has been a fertile ground for researchers at the interface between mapping technologies and social and cultural studies of communities. The emphasis of this work is frequently less instrumental and technological than the often-normative directions implied in many studies of Public Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS). As such, community mapping frequently sits at the interface between artistic or creative endeavor and more political aspirations. The powerful potential of mapping is central in these analyses. This bibliography starts by introducing standard sources, including historical studies, together with descriptions of best practices published in handbooks. As a diverse and multidisciplinary process, research is reported in journals from many different fields. The bibliography then moves on to chart studies of methods and technologies deployed in different contexts. A very diverse variety of interests have become involved with these kinds of community initiatives, and the core of this bibliography charts many of the different directions and emphases taken in these studies, contrasting indigenous mapping practices with participatory encounters in planning systems in Western and developed contexts, and more explicitly protest-oriented mapping, mapping out resistance instead of participation. Overlap clearly exists between these categories: many indigenous projects also embody protest, while research may also be about practice, and sometimes also considers methods and reflects different modes of participation with an output that sits across genres. References relating to artistic interventions are introduced, and more technological and data-driven initiatives using open and crowdsourced virtual collaboration are explored. References to leisure-based community mapping are introduced and exemplified with an overview of reading relating to mapping made by the cycling community. The bibliography concludes with a consideration of critical studies of the practice and research directions involved in the praxis of community mapping.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Bibliographies
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Community mapping
  • bibliography


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