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Friday, May 13 • 10:45am - 11:00am
Mapping Homelessness

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This paper presents preliminary results from a larger research program that asks two interrelated questions: How can digital mapping facilitate new analyses of homelessness? And, how can undertaking socially engaged research on homelessness facilitate new understandings digital mapping? This paper, as a part of that larger project, documents the interpretive process of data analysis in conjunction with the mechanical process of mapping to argue that socially engaged and theoretically informed methods are a vital, if often overlooked, component of scholarship on the geoweb.

Homeless counts are one of the most common measures for determining homeless populations in urban areas. They are conducted as point-in-time exercises, meaning that the data collected represents a snapshot of homelessness on a single day. So, while such counts are statistically limited in what they are able to tell us, they are nonetheless the best instruments currently in use to gather basic data. This project uses the point-in-time dataset of Homeward Trust, a comprehensive community housing organization in Edmonton, Canada, who have undertaken 10 such counts to date.

I argue that to develop maps from this dataset is to develop discursive actors that produce spaces as much as they describe them. To build a map is to build discourse, to build knowledge. The series of maps that I will present in this paper represent just such discursive objects – objects to be read, challenged, and analysed – not simply believed. By highlighting the fact that the scholarship I am producing is, itself, a potential object of study, this paper both tells (some of) the stories of homelessness in Edmonton, and highlights how attentive we must be to the truth claims that our digital productions make, often in spite of our best efforts.


Friday May 13, 2016 10:45am - 11:00am MST
COOR L1-18 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  Culture and Ethics, Long Paper
  • Session Location COOR L1-18