(Carto)graphic intersectional stories of mental (ill-)health: walking the street while mothering an autistic teenager

Authors: Laurence Simard-Gagnon*,
Topics: Gender, Cartography, Disabilities
Keywords: mapping, narrative cartography, mothering, mental health, autism
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


For the last decades, feminist health geographers have embraced graphic narratives as powerful story tellers of experiences of mental health. These researchers call for an exploration of visual narrative as way to shed light on shades of experiences that remain elusive and often marginalized in textual accounts (Donovan and Ustundag 2017). These theoretical advances have coincided with an increasing interest in feminist geographies for the implications of intersectional approaches and understandings of power (McKittrick 2006; Valentine 2007; McDowell 2008; Mollet and Faria 2018; Rodó-de-Zárate and Baylina 2018).

In this paper, I explore ways in which experiences of mental health are inextricably about power. I approach intersectionality as an endeavour to map encounters between stories of power as they emerge, both materially and discursively, at particular temporal and spatial moments in individual and collective trajectories. I use this intersectionality-as-mapping approach as I narrate my own states of mental distress and wellness during a walk to various stores in my neighbourhood with my teenage autistic son. I do so by using graphic and cartographic stories, combined in a story-map, an accessible and relatively easy to use method of narrative cartography (Caquard and Dimitrovas 2017).

I argue that (carto)-graphic narratives of daily life and spaces open possibilities to understand mental (ill-)health as inherently spatial, multiscalar (from body parts to streets, neighbourhoods, city, and global socio-economic and ecological dynamics), and intricately anchored in power relationships and social stories around mothering, neoliberal citizenship, and disability.

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