Edinburgh Culture & Communities Mapping Project

 

The Culture and Communities Mapping Project uses cultural mapping and GIS to understand arts access, diversity, equity, and communities of artistic practice in Edinburgh.

Core Methods

In 2019 we hosted seven cultural mapping workshops to ask participants questions about culture using big print outs of maps. We also use a webmap to show the data gathered from our workshops, data scraped from Google maps, and other sources. The workshops were a fantastic way to engage people in research on cultural space – people enjoyed interacting physically with the maps, and it got participants to talk about how culture relates to place and community. The digital maps, on the other hand, allow us to ask other types of questions, such as: How do cultural spaces relate to sociodemographic factors and geographic factors, like buses and bike paths? How are different art sectors clustered throughout the city? How do these spaces relate to schools, libraries? Etc.

Methodological Challenges and Questions

We’ve had a lot of discussion around the way maps are partial, subjective, and time-specific. Our map captures a slice of time, and it reflects decisions made about what defines ‘culture’ and how to break it up into categories. We also have to confront the way maps can be used both to describe and to make decisions – for instance, we’re in early talks with Festivals about whether the maps could illuminate the relation between festivals and their outreach with local schools. Which schools seem more isolated from Edinburgh’s cultural offerings and so worth more support and outreach? Once maps are used instrumentally this way, it raises a lot of questions about the power of representation and what maps should claim to represent. We’re now exploring ways to use the map for more qualitative ends – virtual tours, oral histories, and the like. 

Tools 

ArcGIS for our webmap, QGIS for the printed maps, Excel and One Drive for our data management, and Google maps and Wikipedia for data scraping.

Credits

Morgan Currie (PI) and Melisa Miranda (Project researcher, data analyst, and GIS specialist)