Our Kind of Town

Phil Cohen


This essay is about the theoretical and methodological issues raised by  critical cartography in the last decade and their bearing on the struggle to build a just city around a conception of democratic politics centred on the defence and extension of the commons. 

In Part One I discuss epistemologies of map making, outline a typology of cartographical genres, and look at how social scientists and visual artists have used the  map variously as metaphor or model. I conclude by taking a critical look at Fredric Jameson’s theory of cognitive mapping. Part Two, which will appear in  Livingmaps Review volume 1 issue 2, turns to problems of method. It begins with  a  critique of psycho-geography for not being psychoanalytic enough and of citizen social science for reproducing, even as it tries to challenge, existing  knowledge and power relations. The essay concludes by suggesting an agenda for a denizen  cartography and outlines a pedagogy of participatory counter mapping linked to  community action projects which might embody this approach.

En route the reader is encouraged to look at a large number of maps linked to the text which illustrate and provide a running commentary on the argument. 


methodology; theory; Jameson


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