Today I did a short interview with Russell Kirkpatrick. As I promised yesterday, he has a very interesting day job – he is a professional cartographer. That’s kind of useful if you write fat fantasy novels, but Russell’s real work is much more adventurous. We talked about ways in which maps can be used to reinforce or subvert social power dynamics, and there is one story I would particularly like to share with you.
Russell works in a university, and the campus was having a problem with rapes. At first the university authorities refused to do anything about this, so Russell got together with the local feminist group and produced a map of the campus graded by how safe women felt in each area. This “scientific evidence” was all that was necessary to get the authorities to take action. Truly, maps are powerful things.