Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine: Space and Materiality in Digital Cartography
10 / 2009 - 10 / 2012
This project analyzes the cartography of Jerusalem since the 1967 war to better understand how materiality shapes the production of scientific knowledge specifically, the ways that different forms and uses of technology in urban space influence claims posited in maps. Specifically, I will concentrate on the ways that digital cartography has been used to chart East Jerusalem in the period following the 1967 war and the subsequent ambivalent location of the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank, an ongoing redefinition that marks the land as the central site of political struggle (Gorenberg 2008). East Jerusalem has been mapped and re-mapped an uncountable number of times, and it represents an extreme case where GIS technology has been in constant use since it was first publicly implemented in the 1970s. Yet, cartographers regularly make competing factual claims regarding Jerusalem, and it is therefore a key area to study the production of scientific knowledge. Overall, my goal is to analyze the influence of material conditions upon the form and circulation of information that is represented as scientific truth, including the factual claims posited in a map. As such, this research will respond to broader assertions that Geographic Information Science (GIS) technology enables cartographers to map vulnerable sites more effectively, particularly by considering the role that potential bias in the technology itself, as well as forms of social and economic exclusion, contribute to discrepancies in mapping practices and outcomes. I will do so specifically in order to better understand the ways that materiality serves to influence the practice of cartography, a discipline whose members historically helped to legitimize claims to land (Livingstone 1992).