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Counter-Mapping Return

Einat Manoff, Environmental Psychology
Faculty Advisor: Cindi Katz

‘Counter-mapping’ is the map-making process whereby communities appropriate the state’s techniques of formal mapping and make their own maps as alternatives to those used by government (Nancy Peluso, 1995). Counter-maps become tools in the broader strategy for advocacy as they articulate community claims for rights over land. In addition to representing geographic information, counter-maps negotiate between central social, cultural and historical notions.

‘Counter-Mapping Return’ is a participatory mapping project which set out [Workshop – Summer 2010, Exhibition – Summer 2011] to investigate the environmental implications, potentials, and obstacles of planning for refugee return from the two-fold perspectives of Jewish-Israeli and of Israeli-Palestinian participant collaborators. The project’s collaborators shared a connection to the former Arab village named Miska, an expropriated Palestinian town whose residents were expelled in April 1948, and has consequently been erased from the official map of Israel. The village and its surrounding area serve as the case study for our mapping exercises.

Due to the project’s participatory nature, the collaborators defined the mapping workshop’s guiding assumptions, articulated the problems arising from them, formulated the research questions and identified common goals. Collaborators include Zochrot volunteer activists – Israeli Jews and Palestinians, members of the organization’s directorate, and representatives from the Committee of Miska Expellees, currently living in Tirah.

An important part of this project is the development of a visual-analytic system for studying the geo-political question at hand through its visual representations. These representations provide a study of the ways in which maps, plans and planning tools can be used to articulate the aggregate of social and physical considerations that are built-in to negotiations of space.
Sedek6 is a recent on-line publication that includes our collective work.

As an addition to the project, I am currently developing a web seminar that will be an environment of study and exchange. This online space will display and discuss counter-maps as ‘documents under construction’ — drafts that are intended to visualize the processes of exclusion and erasure and re-situate inclusionary notions of justice.

Counter-Mapping Return Workshop, Summer 2010 @ Zochrot Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo credit: Nimrod Zin

Counter-Mapping Return Workshop, Summer 2010 @ Zochrot Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo credit: Nimrod Zin

Counter-Mapping Return Workshop, Summer 2010 @ Zochrot Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo credit: Nimrod Zin

Counter-Mapping Return Workshop, Summer 2010 @ Zochrot Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo credit: Nimrod Zin

 Workshop day 3: Proposed map of Return; consists of super-imposed layers of various planning strategies.

Workshop day 3: Proposed map of Return; consists of super-imposed layers of various planning strategies.