Counter-mapping: The community’s protester

Mapping is usually something that people use to get from one place to another. You type in Google Maps where you want to go and ‘wallah’ it tells you how to get there. You can also use maps to look for certain destinations or landmarks. The power of maps has been recently discovered and people are expanding their uses of them.


What is counter-mapping? (That’s exactly what I was thinking). Well its a technique that challenges the perspectives of a place, space, or people. It is often created through collaborative community process and can also be called the ‘bottom-up’ method of protest. Counter-mapping techniques usually focus on political dilemmas, this caninclude:

  • territory and representation
  • surveillance
  • land rights
  • environmental and social justice
Fig 1. 'Counter-mapping within the community':
Fig 1. ‘Counter-mapping within the community’:

“It’s the new attitudes, visions, and radical philosophies of the counter-mappers that are really taking maps and mapmaking in a whole new direction, a direction with the potential to free maps at last from the tyranny of the state.” (Wood, 2010)

article-1272921-0979CB2C000005DC-799_634x433Google Earth is a system of virtual mapping. Counter-mapping on Google Earth is a way of systematically organising social change. Google Earth is used for place-framing and organising process where space can be transformed into a place to motivate action among citizens.

Google Earth works with Google Earth’s Outreach program to assist initiatives for different corporations. For example, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Google Earth work together to promote the cause of refugee aid. (Ewalt, 2010)

“Together with Google, UNHCR is putting refugees on the map – a virtual map – with a new Google Earth tour that shows UNHCR’s refugee camps across the globe. Claudia Gonzalez-Gisiger from UNHCR says the tour is a powerful way for everyone to get an insight into the desperate conditions in which refugees live” (Anderson & Lamy, 2009).


Ewalt J, 2010, ‘Counter-Mapping as Place-Framing: Naturalized Injustice, De-Naturalized Community and Organizing for Social Change on Google Earth, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, viewed April 15th, <;

Anderson, H. F., & Lamy, F, 2007, A picture is worth millions of voices, <;


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