Mapping Identity in Unbalanced Landscapes

Authors: Tracy Tien*, Smith College, Jon Caris, Smith College
Topics: Behavioral Geography
Keywords: GIS, digital humanities, critical geography/landscape, identity, gaming
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


The Smith College Spatial Analysis Lab seeks to address themes of inclusion, diversity, and equity through an exploration of the degree which spatial design contributes to identity-making in formative, yet potentially uneven environments such as a college campus. The project, “Mapping Identity in Unbalanced Landscapes,” was conceived from the recognition that maps are particularly adept at capturing physical terrains, but grapple with representing invisible dynamics. Our primary research question asks how physical spaces — particularly housing — perpetuate inclusiveness/exclusivity among Smith community members of various identities and backgrounds. Key themes that emerged are circumstances that contribute to an uneven playing field (gender, socio-economic background), formative experiences acquired during college (community), and housing as home? (environment, location, social fabric.) Students made recommendations from their results to bridge the gap between the perceptions of the student body and the administration of this “invisible” campus. Future work entails more in-depth student engagement through participatory exhibitions, development of novel mapping modes for spatial narratives, and sustained future programming. Our project design focuses on transforming the intangible into tangible. The initial component surveys were designed by anthropology students that were studying ethnographic research methods. From these insights, we derived potential drivers of inclusion or exclusion and diversity as inputs to a Tangible Landscape. The system enables dynamic interaction with our modeled “landscape” as it responds and projects real-time parameter changes by utilizing a complementary suite of 3D and geospatial processing and rendering.

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