Mapping as Performance of Place

Creative Commons License

Şenel S. A.

DISCLOSURE: JOURNAL OF SOCIAL THEORY, vol.23, pp.91-119, 2014 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 23
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.13023/disclosure.23.08
  • Journal Indexes: Academic Search Premier, EBSCO Education Source, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.91-119
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This article claims mapping as a performance of place. Following the notion of performativity of feminist philosopher Judith Butler, I argue that social norms and historical context defines the ways in which place is represented through maps, yet the practice of mapping may diverge from norms and create new places, as it refers to a temporal and self-reflexive practice. Mapping allows us to develop multiple embodied critical experiences of place, it offers a performance of place. Here, I will define how mapping differs from traditional map-making practices. In order to do this, I will first point out the hegemonic and oppressive strategies of traditional map-making practices, those which are related with their representational techniques, contents and contexts. Next, I will argue that there is a shift from representative theories and practices to performative ones, from map-making to mapping. By giving a number of mapping examples from different disciplines, I will differentiate between informative and performative attitude, and furthermore share some of the dangers of non-critical mapping practices. After setting up this background for a need of an embodied and critical mapping, I will show how mapping is performative first by claiming map-using as a lived spatiotemporality and then by proposing an embodied kind of map-making, during which self and place are dynamically redefined in relation to each other. Drawing from poststructuralist feminist theories, I will argue that two practices that are a part of mapping, map-using and -making, allows us to consider mapping as a performance of place.