Mapping the stories of everyday life: Envisioning innovative ways of understanding our cities

Authors: Andrea Pimentel*,
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Narrative cartographies, Art-based research methods, literary geographies, Puerto Rico
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Cities across the world are characterized by the images we make of their urban heritage: their physical experience greatly shapes how we conceive them. While some cities have impressive architectural typologies that give continuity to their history, others are best described through the invisible heritage that is built from the meanings created by its inhabitants: cultural practices, stories, memories, etc. The capital of Puerto Rico is a city whose image is built upon the intangible elements that are not physically present in its morphology. Thus, the literary experience of San Juan becomes a rich source of said meanings. When we look at its everyday geographies, its stories become a map and the landscape becomes a narrative. Following the paradigms of Arts-based Methods, an anthology of literary texts was created where different authors narrated their quotidian experiences in San Juan. The editorial process consisted of selecting texts that would subsequently be mapped. Then, the authors provided sketches of where their stories took place. Finally, a narrative cartography was designed to accompany each story, essay, or chronicle. The purpose of creating a literary anthology of the different perspectives of daily life in San Juan was meant to emphasize each unique way of seeing the city. Furthermore, each map also serves as a way to make tangible the intangible experiences that shape San Juan. Editorial projects of this nature can serve to create new ways of understanding our cities and invite the readers to explore them through unusual and immersive experiences.

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