Learning post-representational mapping from professional cartography


  • Heather J. Miles School of Education, Environment and Development, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK


There is a sustained distancing of the discipline of geography from academic and professional cartography. Countering this geography-cartography separation, this article presents some of the findings from an ethnographic exploration with two professional cartographers, Molly O’Halloran and Daniel Huffman. The study highlighted the personal, as well as the processual and post-representational value of O’Halloran’s and Huffman’s map-making. Furthermore, O’Halloran’s and Huffman’s mapping practices can be described as postdigital: they both interweave digital and analogue techniques, expanding the application of the digital in mapping beyond for example geographic information systems (GIS), geovisualisation and virtual reality (VR). The affordances of postdigital mapping approaches for engaging research participants/collaborators and aiding exploration in the context of empirical geography research could be fruitfully further explored.


Aitken S.C. and Craine J., “Into the image and beyond: Affective visual geographies and GIScience”, in Cope M. and Elwood S. (Eds.), Qualitative GIS: A Mixed Methods Approach, Thousand Oaks, SAGE, 2009, pp. 139-155.

Berry D.M. and Dieter M., “Thinking Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Computation and Design”, in Berry D.M. and Dieter M. (Eds.), Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Compu-tation and Design, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 1-11.

Boria E. and Rossetto T., “The practice of mapmaking: Bridging the gap between critical/textual and ethnographical research methods”, Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization, 52, 1, 2017, pp. 32-48.

Brown M. and Knopp L., “Queering the map: The productive tensions of colliding epistemologies”, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 98, 1, 2008, pp. 17-33.

Cramer F., “What Is ‘Post-digital’?”, in Berry D.M. and Dieter M. (Eds.), Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Computation and Design, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 12-26.

Del Casino V.J. and Hanna S.P., “Beyond the ‘binaries’: A methodological inter-vention for interrogating maps as representational practices”, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geogra-phies, 4, 1, 2005, pp. 34-56.

Dodge M., Kitchin R. and Perkins C., Rethinking maps: New frontiers in carto-graphic theory, London, Routledge, 2009.

Duggan M., Mapping interfaces: An ethnography of everyday digital mapping practices, Ph.D. Thesis, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2017, https:// core.ac.uk/download/pdf/83926499.pdf.

Engman M., Ennser-Kananen J. and Cushing-Leubner J., “Mapping (Metapho-rical) Journeys in and Against the Academy”, in Jandrić P., MacKenzie A. and Knox J. (Eds.), Constructing Postdigital Research, Cham, Springer Nature, 2023, pp. 39-61.

Haworth B.T., “Implications of Volun-teered Geographic Information for Disaster Management and GIScience: A More Complex World of Volunteered Geogra-phy”, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108, 1, 2018, pp. 226-240.

Huffman D., “Something of Myself”, somethingaboutmaps, 2020 (7 January), https://somethingaboutmaps.wordpress.com/2020/01/07/something-of-myself/.

Iverson A.A., (C)art Therapy: Sketch Mapping Workshops for Early Teens as a Case Study in Post-representational Cartography, Master’s Thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2019, https://minds. wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/79646.

Jandrić P. and Knox J., “The postdigital turn: Philosophy, education, research”, Policy Futures in Education, 20, 7, 2022, pp. 780-795.

Kitchin R., “From mathematical to post-representational understandings of carto-graphy: Forty years of mapping theory and praxis”, Progress in Human Geography, virtual issue, 2014, https://journals.sagepub. com/doi/abs/10.1177/0309132514562946?journalCode=phgb.

Kitchin R. and Dodge M., “Rethinking maps”, Progress in Human Geography, 31, 3, 2007, pp. 331-344.

Lo Presti L., (Un)Exhausted Cartographies: Re-Living the Visuality, Aesthetics and Politics in Contemporary Mapping Theories and Practices, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Palermo, 2017.

Louis R.P. and Kahele M., Kanaka Hawai’i Cartography: Hula, Navigation, and Oratory, Corvallis, Oregan State University Press, 2017.

Lucchesi A.H., “‘Indians don’t make maps’: Indigenous cartographic traditions and innovations”, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 42, 3, 2018, pp. 11-26.

Miles H.J., Online video-call interviewing and researcher re-enactment within “Remote ethnography”: exploring professional carto-graphic practice [Unpublished Master’s Dissertation, University of Manchester], 2021.

Miles H.J., “Multi-method Mapping”, in Rodekirchen M., Pottinger L., Briggs A. et al. (Eds.), Methods for Change, Vol. 2, Impactful social science methodologies for 21st century problems, Manchester, Aspect and The University of Manchester, 2023a, https://aspect.ac.uk/resources/multi-method-mapping/ (accessed 2 August 2023).

Miles H.J., “Practising difference across geography: A transdisciplinary and Deleuzian approach to intradisciplinary think-ing”, Environment and Planning F, 2, 4, 2023b, pp. 495-514.

O’Halloran M., “Back to the Drawing Board: Manual techniques for things you’re already doing in Illustrator/Photoshop”, (n.d.). mollyohalloran, https://www.molly ohalloran.com/posts/drawingboard.

Pearce M.W. and Louis R.P., “Mapping indigenous depth of place”, American Indian Culture & Research Journal, 32, 3, 2008, pp. 107-26.

Perkins C., “Cartography: Mapping theory”, Progress in Human Geography, 27, 3, 2003, pp. 341-351.

Perkins C., “Cultures of map use”, The Car-tographic Journal, 45, 2, 2008, pp. 150-158.

Perkins C., “Plotting practices and politics: (im)mutable narratives in OpenStreetMap”, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 39, 2, 2014, pp. 304-317.

Rankin W., “What is a nation?”, Dialogues in Human Geography, 12, 1, 2022, pp. 41-44.

Rossetto T., “Semantic ruminations on ‘post-representational cartography’”, Inter-national Journal of Cartography, 1, 2, 2015, pp.151-167.

Rundstrom R.A., “GIS, indigenous peoples, and epistemological diversity”, Cartography and Geographic Information Systems, 22, 1, 1995, pp. 45-57.

Sletto B.I., “Cartographies of remembrance and becoming in the Sierra de Perijá, Venezuela”, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 39, 3, 2014, pp. 360-372.






Mapping societies (ed. by Laura Lo Presti and Matteo Marconi)