Cartography, the art and science of mapping space, has a history which cannot be separated from issues of power, control and alienation. Indeed, mapping the Americas, Asia and Africa was integral to colonial projects to dominate the land as well as all that inhabited it. As thinkers such as Frantz Fanon and Michel Foucault demonstrate throughout their oeuvres (cf. “On Violence” from The Wretched of the Earth and “Panopticism” from Discipline and Punish), controlling a space directly impacts the psychic development of those who inhabit that space. This is to say that mapping always already has implications that are psychosocial in nature.
There is also an important, if often overlooked, history of psychosocial approaches to cartography. Examples of this include: Fanon who was, in the words of his mentor François Tosquelles, first and foremost a thinker of space; Fernand Deligny’s work with non-verbal autistic children mapping how they inhabit space in order to establish therapeutic relationships with them; Félix Guattari famously approached his understanding of the unconscious via cartography, a practice indebted to Deligny; and Jean Oury, Guattari’s long-time collaborator and the founder and director of La Borde Clinic, whose approach to psychotherapy began with a phenomenological mapping of the clinic. Different from psychogeography and the dérive, the afore mentioned practitioners actively mapped space in order to radically rework it, disalienating the institutional arrangements and the individuals within.
Today, be it in relationship to issues of racialisation, digital networks, urban studies, climate change, political transformations, prison abolition, clinical work in hospitals or care in the community, the need for a psychosocial understanding of cartography is perhaps more urgent than ever. This conference will seek to elicit psychosocial approaches to mapping space in order to inform how we might address the spatial concerns that structure contemporary issues of race, geography, psychotherapy, ecology and politics.
This two-day conference will involve a blended (in person and online) programme of panels, experiential interventions and a keynote presentation by Anne Querrien.
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