The Cultural Life of Maps: Everyday Place-Making Mapping Practices

Mike Duggan


Maps don’t simply go out into the world as finished artefacts. Rather, maps become bound up in the practices of everyday life. This is to say that maps have a social and cultural life that extends well beyond the purposes that they were originally designed for. In this article I draw from an ethnographic study of map users to show how both paper and digital maps become intertwined with everyday practices of place-making. In the first instance, I highlight how the popular A-Z pocket atlas has become embedded into the place-making navigational practices of two London residents. In the second instance, I show how digital mapping software has become integral to the place-making navigational practices of a road cyclist. In documenting these cases I shed light on the specific ways that paper and digital maps may be annotated, and how such annotations matter as they become folded into the social and cultural nuances of everyday place-making process. 

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