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New Book: Mapping Crisis

A Book by Doug Specht, published by University of London Press

The digital age has thrown questions of representation, participation and humanitarianism back to the fore, as machine learning, algorithms and big data centres take over the process of mapping the subjugated and subaltern. Since the rise of Google Earth in 2005, there has been an explosion in the use of mapping tools to quantify and assess the needs of those in crisis, including those affected by climate change and the wider neo-liberal agenda. Yet, while there has been a huge upsurge in the data produced around these issues, the representation of people remains questionable. Some have argued that representation has diminished in humanitarian crises as people are increasingly reduced to data points. In turn, this data has become ever more difficult to analyse without vast computing power, leading to a dependency on the old colonial powers to refine the data collected from people in crisis, before selling it back to them.

This book brings together critical perspectives on the role that mapping people, knowledges and data now plays in humanitarian work, both in cartographic terms and through data visualisations, and questions whether, as we map crises, it is the map itself that is in crisis.



Paperback: 978-1-912250-33-2
ePub: 978-1-912250-37-0
PDF: 978-1-912250-38-7

Table of contents:

Mapping Crisis: a reflection on the Covid-19 pandemic
Doug Specht

Introduction: mapping in times of crisis
Doug Specht

1. Mapping as tacit representations of the colonial gaze
Tamara Bellone, Salvatore Engel-di-Mauro, Francesco Fiermonte, Emiliana Armano and Linda Quiquivix

2. The failures of participatory mapping: a mediational perspective
Gregory Asmolov

3. Knowledge and spatial production between old and new representation: a conceptual and operative framework
M. Rosaria Prisco

4. Data colonialism, surveillance capitalism and drones
Faine Greenwood

5. The role of data collection, mapping and analysis in the reproduction of refugeeness and migration discourses: reflections from the Refugee Spaces project
Giovanna Astolfo, Ricardo Marten Caceres, Falli Palaiologou, Camillo Boano and Ed Manley

6. Dying in the technosphere: an intersectional analysis of European migration maps
Monika Halkort

7. Now the totality maps us: mapping climate migration and surveilling movable borders in digital cartographies
Bogna M Konior

8. The rise of the citizen data scientist
Aleš Završnik and Pika Šarf

9. Modalities of united statelessness
Rupert Allan


Cover image: “12 Months Over the Stirling Ranges” (detail), Grayson Cooke, 2018. A false-colour composite image of Stirling Range National Park in Western Australia. This image has been produced with the support of Geoscience Australia, and with the assistance of resources from the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), which is supported by the Australian Government.

Doug Specht


Dr Doug Specht is a cultural geographer and educationalist. His research explores themes related to environmental justice, human rights, and access to education, with a focus on the production and codification of knowledge though cartographic artefacts and in educational settings. In recognition of his work, he has been appointed as a Chartered Geographer and Chartered Teacher. In addition, he has been awarded Advanced Teacher Status, alongside being a Senior Fellow of AdvanceHE. Dr. Specht has authored numerous articles and books, including Mapping Crisis, the Routledge Handbook of Geospatial Technology and Society, the Media and Communications Student Study Guide and Imagining Apocalyptic Politics in the Anthropocene. He writes regularly on ethics, environmental and human rights, education, and mapping practices in such publications as WonkHE, The Conversation, Geographical, and for Times Higher Education. Dr Specht is a member of the editorial board of the European Journal of Geography, Westminster papers in Communication and Culture, and Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman. He is Chair of the Environmental Network for Central America.


14 September 2020
Published By
University of London Press
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