Using participatory mapping in gender and development research: Presenting counterhegemonic possibilities

Authors: Maria Elisa Christie*, Virginia Tech, Kellyn Montgomery, Virginia Tech, Mary Harman Parks, Virginia Tech, Megan Puhl, Virginia Tech, Kaitlyn Spangler, Virginia Tech, Daniel Mark Sumner, Virginia Tech, Emily Van Houweling, Virginia Tech, Laura Zseleczky, Virginia Tech
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Gender, Development
Keywords: participatory research, qualitative methods, mapping, gender, cultural and political ecology, development
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Participatory, hand-drawn maps can be a powerful platform for engagement between scientists and farmers and create opportunities for two-way exchange of technical information that can lead to improved practices and recognition of local –including women’s—knowledge. In cases where women have lower literacy rates than men and are less accustomed to speaking in public, they can increase women’s participation in research and create opportunities for understanding their perspectives and priorities. This poster reflects on participatory research experiences of a faculty and graduate students from Virginia Tech with farmers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America including over 300 hand-drawn or sketch maps. These explored gendered space and livelihoods; gendered access to and control over resources; and local knowledge, beliefs and perceptions. Specific topics included mobility and access to information; pesticides and Integrated Pest Management (IPM); soil quality; agricultural value chains; and food safety and aflatoxin management. Working in women-only and men-only focus groups, and with men and women separately at the household level, is a strategy for collecting sex-disaggregated spatial data that lends itself to gender analysis. While the maps sometimes contain interesting data—often because of the differences in men’s and women’s maps—, the processes of mapping and labeling are particularly useful for guiding semi-structured individual or group interviews, and leading the researcher to unexpected findings and new questions. In addition, presenting and discussing them allows their makers to speak their truths orally and visually, offering counterhegemonic possibilities even within the confines of Western-defined and dominated development projects.

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