Livingmaps Review

A journal for theory and practice in critical cartography and participatory social mapping.

No 2 (2017)

Cover Page

Harry Beck: Early sketch for the map of the London Underground system, 1931. From the British Library exhibition Drawing the Line and reproduced with kind permission of the British Library. The original is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.


Welcome to the second issue of Livingmaps Review.  We are delighted to announce that a number of new members have joined our editorial team, strengthening the range of expertise on which we can draw.  Gwilym Eades has taken over the editorship of Navigations, Nicolas Fonty has joined Barbara Brayshay on Waypoints, Blake Morris and Clare Qualmann are responsible for Lines of Desire, and Oscar Aldred is editing Mapworks. Christos Varvantakis and Eduardo Canteros join us as foreign correspondents and will be keeping the journal in touch with developments in Southern Europe and Latin America in future issues.

The articles in this issue deal with a wide range of topics in critical cartography. We continue to draw material from Livingmaps’ seminar series as well as commissioning work from academics, artists and activists. In this issue, we cover the recent exhibition of 20th Century maps at the British Library with a review by Rhiannon Firth and an interview with the curator, Tom Harper. The exhibition led us to   ask about how far critical cartography can inform curatorial strategy and challenge common sense assumptions about the nature of the map and its relation to the world, whilst at the same time appealing to the non-specialist.

 Navigations features an essay by Dick Pountain exploring recent developments in the neuro-science of cognitive mapping. The section also includes Dan MacQuillan’s counter-mapping of the corporate techno-utopia promoted by the smart city agenda, and the second part of ‘Our Kind of Town’, which sets out a manifesto for Livingmaps’ flagship project, A Citizen’s Atlas of London. George Jaramillo digs beneath the romantic landscape of the Lake District to show how it is marked by an invisible scenography created from the working lives of its lead miners.

The ethno-cartographic method used by Jaramillo is also taken up by other contributors. In Waypoints, Jina Lee discusses her use of life drawing maps in an ethnographic study of diasporic community amongst people from South Korea living in southwest London.  And in Lines of Desire Hilary Powell presents her recent community art project with the last miners of the South Wales valleys, excavating the material and cultural history of King Coal for what it can tell us about contemporary environmental and social issues.   

The editors of Waypoints have interviewed Steve Lowe about Jimmy Cauty’s touring exhibition of riot which models a post-apocalyptic landscape, and report on ‘Just Space’, a project of activist community network mapping in London. Lines of Desire explores the cartographic imaginary through work by Jennie Savage and Dillon de Give. Mapworks features a commentary on William Bunge’s iconic maps from Fitzgerald-Geography of a Revolution, a short piece by Oscar Aldred setting out some key issues of cartographic representation, and a short piece by Tim Ingold on the work of the map artist David Lemm. We hope to carry an extended interview with David Lemm in our next issue. Finally, the reviews section includes Dan Dobson on Curiocity and the LCC bomb maps, a review by two Brooklyn residents of Rebecca Solnit’s new atlas of New York, and an essay on a new collection of work by French critical cartographers.

In future issues

From time to time we will focus issues on particular themes. The first of these will be ‘Front Line Cartography: re-mapping the border'. The growth of populist movements with isolationist and nativist programmes is creating new topographies of exclusion and demarcations based on religion, culture, ethnicity and race. Soft borders are becoming hard ones. We want to address issues about the US/Mexican border, the Turkish/Greek front line in Cyprus, Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the internal borders created in Europe in response to the mass migration of refugees.

If you have an idea for this or for other future issues contact us at