Key Faculty: T.L. Cowan (cowant AT newschool.edu); K Surkan (ksurkan AT mit.edu); Laura Wexler (laura.wexler AT yale.edu)
Syllabus Description [adjust to your course’s purposes]: (in-class activity, interaction or assignment)
The FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map is an experiment in thinking about the relationship between space, place, mobility and knowledge production and circulation. By marking locations of significance to ourselves, we hope to get a sense of where we are coming from across the FemTechNet world.
Questions to consider: How does place and location affect our knowledges? Where do our knowledges come from? Does it matter where you were when you learned something? How do ideas, knowledge practices, customs, values, norms travel? What does it mean to move across spaces? What changes when we move, especially when we traverse borders? Under what conditions do we move? How do ideas change over time and/or space? How are knowledges culturally specific? How are places racialized, gendered, classed, designated or felt as safe or dangerous? What are marginal or minoritized spaces? What knowledges come from being part of a dominant culture in a place? And from a minoritized culture in a place?
- Yi Fu Tuan – Space and Place: A Humanistic Perspective
- Jeremy Crampton – Introduction to Critical Cartography
- Karen Keifer Boyd – Visual Culture & Gender
- Marianna Pavlovskaya and Kevin St. Martin – Feminism and GIS
- Feminist GIS (Development of Thought Wiki)
- Graham Huggan – Decolonizing the map
- David Meek – Critical Cartography as Transformational Learning
- FemTechNet Video Dialogue: “Place” with Sharon Irish and Radhika Gajjala: http://femtechnet.newschool.edu/groups/docc-2013-video-dialogs/forum/topic/place-radhika-gajjala-and-sharon-irish/
- Donna Haraway (1988). “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. http://www.staff.amu.edu.pl/~ewa/Haraway,%20Situated%20Knowledges.pdf
- Patricia Hill Collins (1990). selection from Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/252.html (This is freely accessible, but there are some typos.)
- Nana Verhoeff. “You are Here: Playful Mapping and the Cartography of Layers.” http://icaci.org/files/documents/ICC_proceedings/ICC2013/_extendedAbstract/432_proceeding.pdf
- Doreen Massey – “Space, Place, and Gender”
- Adrienne Rich, “Note Towards a Politics of Location.” In Blood Bread and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979-1985. New York: W.W. Norton. (1986): 210–32. Here is a online version – http://www.medmedia.it/review/numero2/en/art3.htm
- Adrienne Rich, “Towards a Women-Centered University.” On Lies, Secrets and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978. New York: Norton, 1979. (Short excerpt here: http://feministlit.pbworks.com/w/page/8649395/Toward%20A%20Woman%20Centered%20University)
Getting Started on the FTN Collaborative Situated Knowledges Map
Watch this Google Map Engine tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6pWfoktUd8
If you get lost in this process, feel free to contact T.L. Cowan (tlcowan1 at gmail dot com).
- Open the FemTechNet Situated Knowledges Map link via your Google account: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zgRBEY0lMifM.ktEBl3YRkh3U
- Select ‘Add a Marker’ [to the right of the hand icon] from the toolbar below the Search field at the top of this map.
- Drop a pin or make a marker on a place that represents a moment of feminist knowing, unknowing, learning, unlearning, understanding, confusion.
- In the description field of your pin or marker, please note your name (or a pseudonym), where you are writing from, and include either a narrative description of an event, or idea, a poem, micro-story, video, photo, etc. to animate your marker. You might want to make a mark about some of the following ways that you intersect with the idea of Feminism & Technology:
- your home town
- where you first encountered an idea that transformed your understanding of the world or yourself
- a place where you had an experience that transformed your understanding of the world or yourself
- a place where you first came to an understanding of a key concept:
- power, class, gender, sex, assigned sex, race,
- Women of Color Feminism
- Transnational feminism
- feminist killjoy
- migrant knowledges
- Black Radical Tradition
- scattered hegemonies
- Indigenous knowledges
- (de)colonized knowledges
- compulsory heterosexuality
- situated knowledge
- cyborg knowledges
- compulsory ablebodiedness
- reproductive labour
- affective labour, etc
- a place that represents a site of epistemological belonging or alienation
- or a place that has been important for you in your knowledge of yourself in/and the world.
You may add as many pins as you’d like. Please only edit your own pins and be careful not to ‘delete’ anything!
5. Once you have added your pin/marker, name and media: click “Share” (upper right hand corner) and then “Done (bottom of pop-up box).
6. Browse through the other pins & markers and see where other folks are coming from! All map participants are encouraged to write a short reflection on their experience of the collaborative map, and we will collect these reflections and publish them as a FemTechNet blog post (contact T.L. if you would like to participate in this). Unfortunately Google Engine doesn’t allow comments on other people’s pins.
7. Commenting: If you would like to comment on another pin, here’s how you can do it: drop a pin and write your comment as usual. Once you have posted your comment, hover the curser over the title of your comment in the list on the left of the map. Use the paint can icon to change your pin into a star and color it blue! (I have added a comment called “White Savior Industrial Complex” as an example.)
Furthermore, instructors may choose to signify certain icons for specific purposes. Ie:
- we could use a purple square to indicate an “After reading ___” or “Key Word ____” marker that indicates a spatialization of students’ coming to new knowledges.
- we might want to add another notation shape (a green circle) that indicates a student re-visiting the map — what is something they have learned in a spatialized way during the course? And we could add this to the assignment — Drop a green circle at the end of the semester. How has your thinking changed? Do you perceive that initial experience that you described in your first pin differently?
7. One last glitch: Google Engines only allows one user at a time to work on the map. If you are doing this exercise in class, your students will have to take turns. If you are logged into the map and it is glitching out on you, it probably means that someone else is working on it, so come back in 10 min. Again, this is an experiment–or research-creation process–towards a FemTechNet map project, so please record your thoughts as you contribute to the map.
Hot Chocolate Machine as Working Class Femme Technology?
T.L. Cowan – (Now lives in New York City) Working in the snack bar of the local hockey (and figure skating and ringette) arena, which my dad managed, I learned to use technologies that most people will never know about…the hot chocolate machine, a hot dog contraption, a microwave that was only ever used for frozen pizzas and danishes. I even drove the zamboni or did my father try to teach me and I didn’t care? or did he just teach my brothers and i was stuck in the snack bar? it’s all a blur. but the whirrrrr of the hot chocolate machine will always bring me to that ‘flush’ that Sedgwick talks about — the flush of shame. Although the word “flush” brings me to another memory — cleaning the toilets & urinals. But that’s for another time. The whirrrrr of the hot chocolate machine: This is the time when I felt most alienated from femininity — here I was this lunging girl — dishing out microwaved pizzas, greasy hotdogs, bags of chips, and so much bloody hot chocolate to all these tiny figure-skaters who, it seemed to me, looked at me as a monster: as pathetic, large, poor and clumsy. At the time I didn’t know anything about ‘working class cred’ and didn’t feel any solidarity with the other poor, struggling class or working class kids I knew. I just wanted pretty things and a small body.
Questions? Contact T.L. Cowan: tlcowan1[at]gmail[dot]com
By Julia M Gossard
While lecturing on Magellan’s famed voyage that circumnavigated the early modern world, I asked the student who had chosen to trace the voyage on a map if she had any further insights. Somewhat surprisingly she retorted, “Not historically, but it did take me a really long time to draw that line representing Magellan’s voyage. I can’t imagine having actually done it in the 16th century.” Her comment opened up an engaging (unplanned) discussion about the realities of sea travel, culture shock, and geography in the early modern world. As a result of the mapping assignment, students were thinking carefully about the challenges of early modern life, including how people traded and interacted with each other across the globe.
The idea to assign a mapping project came to me in fall 2015 at the University of Texas at Austin when I named my survey course Global Early Modern Europe. Throughout the course, I emphasized that Europe between 1500 and 1800 was not an isolated continent. Instead, it was economically, politically, religiously, and ideologically connected to the wider early modern world. In particular, we studied the ways in which European states and people not only influenced the wider world but how indigenous populations in the Americas, rulers in Asia and Southeast Asia, slave traders in Africa, and merchants in the Middle East influenced Europe. To provide a visual representation of this, students plotted the transmission of goods, people, ideologies, and cultural inventions across the early modern globe.
Over the course of the semester, students were responsible for four entries to a Google map. Each entry was approximately 200 words and could be about a person, place, idea, commodity, or thing (such as a piece of art or a battle). Much like an identification term on an exam, these entries defined the subject, gave dates, and provided historical significance. Students were encouraged to draw lines between their entries that were related. Now complete, the map is a striking visual of how intertwined Europe was with the rest of the world during the early modern period. The entries proved to be a treasure trove for students who had intelligently and accurately crowd-sourced information in preparation for their midterm and final exams.
A mapping project such as this can address a number of learning objectives as well as challenges instructors face when teaching a survey history course. Instructors of survey courses in Western civ or world history frequently complain that their students lack a number of competencies that preclude their full understanding of the course’s content. Through this project, I was able to address my students’ lack of geographic knowledge, challenge their aversion to historical research projects, and build their digital literacy. The project addressed all three of these issues in a way that was accessible and exciting to students.
The first, and probably the most basic, problem my students had was a lack of geographic knowledge. Many generally knew where Europe was, but where exactly was the Holy Roman Empire? Or the Ottoman Empire? Although the Google Maps platform uses modern-day political boundaries, you can easily change the default setting to a topography map. Although none of my students did it, in future mapping projects I will encourage them to draw in the changing political boundaries of various kingdoms and empires to further emphasize the ebb and flow of geographic power. During the semester, my students started to see how geography was a causal factor in history. For instance, they recognized the important roles that waterways played both as conduits of exchange and as barriers. For many students, the enormity and danger of a voyage like Magellan’s took on a whole new meaning because they were able to chart it for themselves. They began to understand just how fundamental, difficult, and wide early exchange was.
Aside from providing a geographic understanding, this mapping project allowed students to become research collaborators. On the first day of class when I mentioned there would be a research project, many students looked unhappy. But when I explained to them it was going to be a digital mapping project their spirits lifted. About 75 percent of my students were non-humanities majors and were more familiar with visual and tactile presentations than auditory ones. With the map’s functionality, presentation style, and the autonomy students had in selecting the map’s content, the project spoke very clearly to many students’ desires to create. Although this project had all the same components of a research paper—presenting a solid thesis, supporting that thesis with primary source evidence, and writing in clear and concise manner—the early modern map made students believe they were doing a different kind of research. They saw their map as a collaborative exhibit that was intended to present information to each other in a way that was accessible, student-centric, content-driven, and precise.
While they were honing their research skills, they were also learning important lessons about digital and media literacy. I encouraged students to use digital sources, but taught them about source evaluation, bias, and legitimacy (see worksheet below). They developed strategies to filter out incorrect or biased information and prioritize scholarly information. Similarly, the mapping project afforded students a number of skills including the ability to work collaboratively on projects. They were able to master the Google suite of services, which sounds like a small skill but can be extremely valuable. It was astonishing how many students were unable to use Google Docs, Google Excel, and Google Maps prior to this project. These students now have these tools in their digital toolbox.
Even though there are many GIS and mapping platforms available for classroom assignments, Google Maps is still one of the most accessible. It is free to sign up and use. Chances are, too, most students already have a Gmail account that can serve as their login for Google Maps. Sharing the map is simple and requires only a URL. Teachers can also customize privacy settings—allowing the map to be private or public—based on their preferences.
For instructors who are nervous about assigning a digital project, this is a great place to start. Google Maps is easy to navigate and learn, but creates a visually stunning and useful assignment. In addition to the instructions I’ve provided below, Google offers many articles and videos to help you set up your own map. As with any digital project, the instructor should set aside a good amount of time to play with the tool themselves before assigning it. Looking back at the map nearly two years later, it still stands as one of my favorite assignments. It inspired me to assign a digital project in every course, whether as another mapping project, a digital timeline, or a class Wiki.
Instructions: Mapping the Early Modern World
Sample Worksheet: The Historian’s Toolbox: Source Evaluation
Julia M Gossard is assistant professor of history and a distinguished assistant professor of honor’s education at Utah State University. She teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on the history of early modern and modern Europe. A historian of 18th-century France, Julia is finishing her manuscript, Coercing Children, that examines children as important actors in social reform, state-building, and imperial projects across the early modern French world. She is active on Twitter. To learn more about her teaching, research, and experience in digital humanities, visit her website.