“People trust maps, and intriguing maps attract the eye as well as connote authority” (Monmonier 1991, p. 87).
People trust and use maps in everyday life; from using Google Maps to follow a particular route to get to a final destination or simply looking for a particular country or place on a world map. There have also been examples of maps being created based on political, cultural and social agenda. However in this day and age, the use of maps are expanding in new and powerful ways.
Previously mapping was used to showcase political power. A prime example of this is the Mercator Map which centralised Europe unproportionately to highlight European domination (Monmonier 1991, p. 96). Since this time, there have been several variations of mapping, extending into a new field of counter mapping.
Movements such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, have taken advantage of social media to expose and communicate social justice issues to society. Another movement that highlights this positive activism and counter mapping style is Hollaback. Hollaback was created in New York City in 2005 to allow people to share stories of street harassment, calling attention to this social justice issue and providing a way to understand where it was occurring (Dimond et al. 2013, p. 477).
By collecting personal accounts it not only aims to combat street harassment but also provides a supportive cyber environment for victims. Different coloured tags are used to provide information concerning safe and unsafe areas, which is of benefit to local citizens and travellers. The counter mapping style has been so successful in creating awareness and aiming to reduce street harassment that iPhone and Android apps have been developed to allow live updates of information and stories as well as outline where specifically such harassment has taken place geographically.
Currently the Hollaback initiative is being utilised by several different countries all around the world. Such countries include Argentina, Honduras, Belgium, India, Canada, Israel, Chile, Mexico, Turkey, United Kingdom, Germany and the United States (Dimond et al. 2013, p. 478), supporting that maps can be used effectively in non-traditional ways.
The success of this social justice mapping scheme is still expanding, with Egypt recently introducing a new Harass Map which has been created with the aim of stopping the social acceptability of sexual harassment in the North African country.
For more information please watch the below link where the Executive Director of Hollaback Emily May discusses the 21st Century social justice movement.
Dimond, J, Dye, M, La Rose, D & Bruckman, A 2013, ‘Hollaback!: The Role of Collective Storytelling Online in a Social Movement Organisation’, Making the World A Better Place, 23-27 February, pp. 477-489.
Monmonier, M 1991, ‘Maps for political propaganda’, in How to lie with maps, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp.87-112.