Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry Review

In 2015, Routledge published the essay collection Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry, edited by Nancy Duxbury, W. F. Garrett-Petts, and David MacLennan. Grant Revell, an affiliate member of the Center for Cultural Landscapes, is included in the volume. Phil Birge-Liberman wrote a reivew of the collection in the latest edition of Social & Cultural Geography. An excerpt from the review is included below:

As a collection of 17 essays, Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry presents an introduction to the emerging interdisciplinary field of cultural mapping. The contributors come from a variety of academic disciplines, including architecture, urban design, sociology, anthropology, public history, public policy, cultural studies, and the arts. In their introductory chapter, the editors define cultural mapping as an activity that ‘promises new ways of describing, accounting for, and coming to terms with the cultural resources of communities and places’ (p. 2). 

Recognizing the history of mapmaking and its association with exploration, colonialism, and political control, this volume sets out an agenda which emphasizes a bottom-up approach to mapping a community’s cultural assets so that a community can define itself in relation to its cultural identity, vitality, sense of place, and quality of life. While each essay is locally situated, the collection is global in scope including case studies from Australia, Canada, Egypt, Estonia, Italy, Malaysia, Malta, Palestine, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden, Syria, the UAE, the UK, the US, and Ukraine.

In perhaps the most engaging essay in the volume, Len Collard and Grant Revell weave a narrative of indigenous culture, colonial injustice, and of the Reconciliation Action Plan on Wedjemup (Rottnest Island), Western Australia. They tell a story about a century of imprisonment and death of indigenous peoples on ‘an island where the past, present and future are no longer navigable, where genii loci or meaning are derived from a confused state of terre-amnesia and cultural disrespect’ (p. 119). They show the ways through which shared storytelling, mapping, and design led to proposed series of island walkways that would allow visitors to both ‘grieve the Indigenous histories [and] encourage a rebirth of intercultural reconciliation’ (p. 125).