Mapping for change: pratice, technologies and communication (a collection of case studies and reflections)
This special issue of Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) brings together a fascinating collection of case studies and analysis relating to participatory mapping. Case studies come from the countries listed here, for example on land use conflicts in Ghana and cultural heritage in Fiji. Analysis and reflection include on the use of GIS to express traditional knowledge embedded in the landscape; on the certainties and ambiguities of mapping; and on practical tips relating to ethics.
This issue of PLA came to the attention of Forest COMPASS particularly because of the piece in Section 13, on 'Mapping power: ironic effects of spatial information technology' (Fox, J, Suryanata, K, Hershock, P and Hadi Pramono, A. 2006). Workshop participants from various countries highlight some of the unintended consequences of using digital technologies for mapping. For example, there are cases where local elites have taken ownership of maps, and used these to increase their power, or even sell land against the wishes of other community members. As the use of spatial information technology for mapping becaomes more widespread, those communities that still lack access to it can be put at an additional disadvantage. In the Malaysian state of Sarawak, the government responded to a court case that recognised traditional land rights, by declaring community-based mapping illegal through the 2001 Land Surveyors Law.
The article on 'ironic effects' of mapping, and the other pieces in this edition of PLA, make thought-provoking and pratical contributions to participatory mapping.