On the Busyness of Button Mapping: Exploring Children’s Everyday Politics in Belfast

Amy Mulvenna

Abstract


Inspired by feminist materialist thought that takes seriously issues of the material, socio-economic, and crucially, geopolitical narratives within and beyond children’s geographies, my PhD project engages with creative mapping approaches with the aim to give visibility to ways in which geography matters in less overt and less obvious ways for children living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This article outlines one of those mapping approaches – button mapping - co-developed with participants aged 7-11 across four field sites in Belfast. ‘Button mapping’ refers to a more-than visual and intra-active mode of mapping that represents one’s city using tiny things like buttons, shells, paperclips, marbles, bits of straws, cocktail sticks, beads or anything else to hand. In this article I present an empirical example of this approach in order to focus on the complex and open-ended ways that participants practiced everyday minor politics through mapping. In doing so, I seek to highlight researcher responsibilities when enrolling ‘creative’ and ‘playful’ approaches to place-mapping, which can include sensitive questions around identity, belonging and security.

 

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