Wageningen Geography Lectures: Dr. Jess Bier: “Digital Mapmaking on the Ground in Palestine and Israel since 1967: Spatializing the Situated Production of Scientific Knowledge”

Tuesday 11 December,

16:00-17:30 Gaia1 (Droevendaalsesteeg 3, Wageningen Campus)

Complimentary drinks afterwards!

Dr. Jess Bier: “Digital Mapmaking on the Ground in Palestine and Israel since 1967: Spatializing the Situated Production of Scientific Knowledge”

This talk examines how geographical and political landscapes shape the ways that maps are made. By analyzing the process of making 2 to 3 maps from key moments in the history of Palestine/Israel since 1967, it will investigate how conditions on the ground affect the features that appear on the map, and vice versa.

Digital cartography, including GIS and Google Maps, promises the ultimate creation of one accurate and authoritative map of the world. Satellite imagery and remotely sensed data also seemingly make it possible to accurately map anywhere, from almost anywhere else. Even so, on-the-ground geographic fieldwork continues to be important for the collection and validation of digital data, raising important issues of closure and mobility. And politically, by helping to expand and democratize cartography as a discipline, digital cartography has helped increase, rather than reduce, the numerous different perspectives and ways of mapping the Earth.

Drawing on research in science and technology studies (STS), feminist studies of science, and critical cartography, this talk tells the stories behind specific maps and mapmaking practices in, respectively, Palestinian and Israeli, governmental and non-governmental, organizations. It specifies the complex ways that geographic and political imbalances of power can differently, and unjustly, affect Palestinian, Israeli, and/or international cartographers. In the process, it examines how the Israeli occupation serves to shape scientific knowledge of the occupation, and why two trained professionals, using similar tools and approaches, can look at the same landscape and see quite different things.

Dr. Jess Bier is assistant professor of urban sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, where she studies the social and political landscapes of science and technology. She is the author of Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine (MIT Press 2017).

In her research, she focuses on the geographies of knowledge, looking at how science and technology are transformed as they travel through space and time. Moreover she studies how knowledge and data can rework space and time, for example by shaping changes in urban landscapes, infrastructures, and forms of mobility.

Please distribute widely, all are welcome, drop me a line if you intend to join to help me estimate chairs/drinks: clemens.driessen@wur.nl

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