Mapping workshop afterthoughts

The mapping workshop that took place on May 24th 2017 was a nice gathering of PhD architecture researchers from different stages in their research. We first started with an introduction of the workshop structure, which looked as such:

  1. Introduction
  2. Presentations by Nishat & Doina, followed by questions
  3. Group discussion semi-guided by the following questions:
    – How can maps and the activity of mapping be useful in research?
    – What are the potentials and pitfalls?
    – How do you use maps in everyday life today?
  4. Group activity: sharing of an existing map.

The goal of the workshop was to collect common and unusual questions, doubts, perspectives, answers, experiences, techniques, methods, and approaches on mapping in open and discursive ways.

Nishat Awan started off with a presentation of her work, mainly on her PhD project on ‘diasporic territories’ where she interviewed migrants in clubs to find out what they were doing there. Through these conversations, she started to map the interactions taking place in these spaces, following Bruno Latour’s ANT (Actor-Network)-theory. The diverse relations between the different actors were actually the ones making up the spaces. What was really impressive was this typological overview of what maps can be, do, and effectuate:

mapping diagram3-01

Nishat’s presentation was followed by Doina, who was talking about the designing of social agencies in her work with aaa. Through mapping, they were analysing social and ecological potentialities of wastelands and interstices to see what kind of user groups there could be. The activities were documented as an image log, mapping the different actors and relations locally and beyond – a network of relations and the evolution of it through an ANT-analysis. Maps were used as a documentation of its emergence and its complexification. In other projects, such as R-URBAN in Colombes, color-coded diagrams were used to visualise the different interests and gender of participants to make their composition and distribution visible. Here, for example, it was clearly more women who were involved in the project. The boundary between mapping and infographics feels thin here, which links up nicely to Nishat’s diagram shown above. In the end, mapping is a research method, so a research question and categories of what is supposed to be visualised is always needed.

A nice discussion followed afterwards, with many open questions on how to use mapping in our different research projects. The previous inputs were really helpful to get a broader understanding of what mapping can be. We finished off by sharing a mapping example with each other – only one was brought along, Judith Schalansky’s ‘Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands – Fifty Islands I have not visited and never will’. In this book, Schalansky brings together imagination, story-telling and mapping. She researched the history of fifty different remote islands where she had never been and added her own stories to them, to enable readers and herself to travel to these places in our own imagination. Combining maps with a narrative element is a nice method to give them more depth and felt proximity.

Atlas of Remote Islands

With this, we wrapped up the workshop and hope to meet soon again for some other workshops on other research methods. Thanks to both Doina and Nishat for their time and inspiring presentations and to all participants for taking part in the workshop!

Here, you can download Nishat’s whole presentation, Doina’s is to follow soon.

Further references:
_Mogel, L., & A. Bhagat, (Eds.). (2007). An Atlas of Radical Cartography. LA: The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press.
_Pickles, J. (2006). On the Social Lives of Maps and the Politics of Diagrams: A Story of Power, Seduction and Disappearance. Area, 38(3), 347-350.
_Tufte, E. (2006). Beautiful Evidence.  Cheshire CT: Graphics Press.
_Turnbull, D. (1989). Maps are Territories: Science is an Atlas. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
_Schalansky, J. (2009). Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands. Fifty Islands I have not visited and never will. London: Penguin Books.
_Antoniou, A. & Gestalten eds. (2013). A Map of the World. The World According to Illustrators and Storytellers. Berlin: Gestalten Verlag.
_Latour, B. (2005). Re-assembling the Social. An introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Mapping in research

The Lines of Flight research group will host a session with Doina Petrescu and Nishat Awan presenting the use of mapping in their work. How can maps and the activity of mapping be useful in research? What are the potentials and pitfalls? How do we use maps in our everyday life today? The talks will be followed by a discussion and an informal presentation round to which we invite participants to bring a map of their liking to be analysed collectively.

Date & time:
May 24th 2017, 3-5pm
Location: Bartolome House (Law Building), Seminar Room EG 12

Everyone with an interest in mapping is welcome to this open event. We recommend signing up via Eventbrite here as space is limited. Looking forward to possibly seeing you there!

About our guest speakers:
Prof. Doina Petrescu is co-founder of the collective platform aaa (atelier d’architecture autogerée/ studio for self-managed architecture) and Professor of Architecture and Design Activism/ Head of Research at Sheffield University. She considers herself as a `nomadic subject´ in architecture operating between different fields of research and practice, places and cultures; a passionate educator, an academic aware of knowledge politics, an engaged practitioner and an active citizen who hopes that other ways of living and creating are possible.

Dr. Nishat Awan is an architect and lecturer at Sheffield University and is interested in the intersection of geo-politics and space and how this might be addressed in architectural theory and practice, including questions of post-coloniality, diasporas and border practices. Currently, she is working on two research projects: Topological Atlas: Mapping Borders as complex spaces of encounter and Edge of Europe: Migrant Narratives of Citizenship.

Storytelling Workshop (27.04.17)

The storytelling workshop that took place this week was a big success. While we didn’t generate a lot of people, those who came really took on the challenge and everyone noted that they came away with a lot of ideas and inspiration for their work going forward. It was the general consensus that we should schedule a another session, perhaps at the start of the new academic year. We will also likely set up an online discussion space for storyteller researchers to throw ideas around.

Please see attached the slide show from the afternoon. We are aiming to add to the video and referencing section as a lot of good material came out of the discussion. I will post an updated version once that has been completed. If anyone would like a pdf copy of the full slide show or if you would like a copy of the audio visual files that we recorded from the session, please do email me at

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Story-telling Methodology

A new lines of flight session will be held on the 26th April 2017. It will take place in the Arts Tower, University of Sheffield from 2-4pm.

We will discuss story-telling methodology – in particular, the different ways narratives can be constructed as a framework for understanding subjects/objects and interview data within qualitative research.


Jenny Pickerill — LoF session on scholar activism


Next Wednesday, from 12 noon to 1pm we will host a session with Jenny Pickerill, in which we will collectively explore the possibilities of scholar-activism.

The session will be built up as follows: a brief history of why scholar-activism is necessary, important and some of its roots; then a discussion around a typology of different ways to be a scholar-activist. This includes shaping policy debates, long term community work, situated solidarities and direct action. Each will be discussed with examples, discussion of their impacts and reflections on some of their limitations.

6 May, 12.00 – 13.00
Sheffield School of Architecture
Arts Tower, floor 13
The seminar room next to the administrative office

Some reading:

The Autonomous Geographies Collective. (2010) Beyond Scholar activism: Making Strategic Interventions Inside and Outside the Neoliberal University. ACME, 9, 2,

Derickson KD and Routledge P (2015) Resourcing Scholar-Activism: Collaboration, Transformation, and the Production of Knowledge, Professional Geographer, 67.

Scholar activism table


Lines of Flight in Hackeny Wick


Today, Lines of Flight will move to London, where, from 2pm onwards, we will discuss around mapping with Andreas Lang and Mara Ferreri. We will meet at public work’s studio in Hackney Wick at 2 and then walk over to the Wick Common Shop, a temporary space in residence until July in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. As part of R-Urban Wick, it “hosts events, workshops and exhibitions around the idea of the ‘Common Object’, artefacts which are not conceived for individual gain but which express ideas of a common good while at the same time unearthing and revealing hidden relationships or narratives about the locality.”

Discussion over lunch with STEALTH.unlimited — practice-led PhD self-help

Ana Dzokic and Marc Neelen (STEALTH.unlimited) will be joining us next Wednesday, 18 March 2015 for an informal discussion over and after lunch.

Proposed points for the conversation, in which we’ll talk both of STEALTH’s and our own practices & research, could include:
– Coming from a practice background, how does one switch from ‘practice’ to ‘research mode’ as the PhD starts? What does ‘research’ imply in this context and for one’s practice?
– How to deal with issues of positionality and the multiple roles one needs to juggle being at the same time a practitioner, a researcher, a member of a community, …?
– What may happen after the PhD? How to accommodate a thorough, slow, reflexive kind of research-practice process into our messy busy everyday lives?

These are obviously non-exclusive and we’d be happy to add more points to the menu.

We’ll meet at 1pm in the communal space on the 9th floor of the Arts Tower and may move to a quieter space after lunch should the place be too busy.