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An Afternoon With Maps And “Emotions”

On a sunny Saturday afternoon on the terrace of Khoj, a cartography workshop was organised under the headship of Riju (sumandra chattopadhya) as part of the series of workshops under Networks and Neighbourhoods Phase II.  Maps in a very conventional sense provides and answers as to what is where, but a closer look at the distribution would show how maps are not only visual but also speaks to the person of the historical, social and political relevance of the things and places and brings to the fore, the power relations that underlie the outcome in the form of maps. The aim of the workshop was to reveal the understanding of the teenager’s / young adult’s use of public space of their own neighbourhood and the resultant relations, emotions and sensibilities attached to the particular space or a place.  Through the art of map making, an effort was made to unravel the differing experiences of the teenagers from different strata of the society cutting across caste, sex, age, religion, nationality and class.  The motive was to bring forth the multiple usage of public spaces and the meanings attached to it and how such a process initiates an understanding of the ‘spaces of difference’. The exercise at the workshop was to identify a street and make a map of the things that are located on it so as to give a glimpse of the street to a stranger on the road. This is a step towards engaging the stranger in the neighbourhood to the place and ensures a dialogue with the community through the map. The map will not only be a listing of the things available for the stranger to look through, but also the stories or narratives attached to each place that have been experienced. It creates an invisible bond between the stranger and the community that seals the bridge of difference and anonymity. The maps that came up in the first stage were an interesting listing of the things on the streets and a unique representation of the same. One of the participant of the workshop compared the street drawn to the streets of his native country that seemed to have throw open the possibility of engaging in narratives of difference between the public spaces across the boundaries and also integrating them to the public space of the neighbourhood.