Leaving or rescuing the (story) map? – commentary to Saxinger, Sancho Reinoso and Wentzel
This paper reflects on some issues raised by the reading of Saxinger, Sancho Reinoso and Wentzel essay (published in the last issue of Fennia) and their theoretical and methodological concerns on how to conciliate geographic information systems (GIS) ontology with the representation of spatial-fuzzy qualitative data emerging out of ethnographic research. Recalling the intense debate between cartographers, GIS scientists and human geographers on the limits and failures of cartographic representation, the counterfactual doubt raised by Pickles in his book A History of Spaces: Cartographic Reason, Mapping, and the Geo-coded World, published in 2004, resonates strongly: “What if, after all, cartography and maps were not what we thought they were . . . or at least not only what we thought they were?” (page 194). Restoring such a question for the sake of this commentary is a way to rework the issue in an era of pervasive digital mapping, not by replacing the “quantitative” map with the “story” map – the dialectical model that has accompanied the critique of geographers during the 1980s and 1990s – but by multiplying the theoretical perspectives on the humanistic potential of maps, moving beyond the narrowed normative focus on “effective” storytelling as put by the recent The ESRI Story Map.
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