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58596-01 - Kurs: Critical Cartography 3 KP

Semester Herbstsemester 2023
Angebotsmuster Jedes Herbstsemester
Dozierende Alaa Dia (alaa.dia@unibas.ch, BeurteilerIn)
Inhalt Course Description:
This course explores the past, present, and future of mapping across a range of geographic, political, cultural contexts. Maps reveal, delimit, confirm, navigate, historicize, erase, anticipate, persuade, and, sometimes, even lie. Far from a scientific reading of mapping as an objective representation of a stable reality, we explore the myriad of ways in which historical legacies of colonialism and imperialism continue to shape our gaze of the urban landscape—affecting our normative, political and personal considerations of the relations among subjects, objects and spaces.

The course begins with a critical theoretical examination of how maps can be understood as instruments of violence and terrains of power. While this is not a course focusing on technical skill-sets, we will look at numerous forensic approaches to map-making in the service of investigations of state and corporate violence. Using these examples, we explore the historical matrix within which mapping developed by looking at the epistemologies of various types of spatial and temporal maps produced that represent colonized, occupied and otherwise marginalized frontiers and experiences. Our discussions also actively engage with resistances to this practice in the form of other traditions of mapping, including counter-cartographic contestations that make visible otherwise marginal experiences and hidden histories of violence.

More specifically, our course will explore the above tensions through research themes related too the case study of Nestlé and its interlacing with forms and manifestations of Swiss (neo)coloniality. The research themes are jointly developed and shared with The City as Archive course taught by Dr. Kenny Cupers.

Exploring their selected research themes, course participants will consider the social relevance, politics and ethics of mapping, while also engaging in a practical aspect of critical cartography. Working from the case study of Nestlé, students will consider various hands-on techniques for mapping local relations in space and time. Students will also be encouraged to experiment with a range of mapping tools and interdisciplinary methods—including fieldwork, archival research, visual and material analysis and satellite images—to develop creative techniques to produce and represent alternative urban landscapes and overlapping cartographies.

Research Themes:
1. Swiss (Neo-)Coloniality: Nestlé’s Global Footprint
This theme asks how one might map Nestlé’s global footprint in a way that addresses the social and environmental violence of corporate expansion and logistics. In which ways is this a modern extension of what may be termed Swiss colonial relations and imperial control? What kinds of archival strategies might this require? What kinds of maps would do justice to such a project?

2. Plantation Lives and Landscapes: Nestlé Production in Ivory Coast
This theme concerns Nestlé’s impact on farmers, environment, access and urbanization in the Ivory Coast, one of the company’s main cacao production sites. You will engage with the data gathering and mapping practices of Mighty Earth and Public Eye, as a starting point for developing your own archival and mapping strategy. You are invited to link Nestlé’s cacao production to its record on water and milk in other contexts, and explore visual mapping methodologies for extracting ways in which the land remembers the militarization of environments by corporate and state actors.

3. Living with Ruins: Nestlé in South Africa and Palestine
This theme explores Nestlé’s company town of Estcourt, one amongst many such towns whose environment and livelihood are largely shaped by one corporate employer. What archival and mapping strategies might lend themselves to explore the politics of memory and heritage, as well as the questions of what the future looks like for such company towns? In 1994, Nestlé acquired majority shares of the Israeli food maker Osem Investments, producing snack foods at a plant in Sderot, just kilometers away from the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. How can you map Nestlé's legacy in South Africa in relation to its ongoing corporate ventures in apartheid Israel?

4. Architecture of Global Governance: Nestlé Headquarters in Vevey
Nestlé’s headquarters in Switzerland feature a signature building designed by architect Jean Tschumi in 1960s. The building resembles the architecture of international organizations such as the EU or UNESCO. How does the complex and its placement within the local infrastructure in Vevey convey the global ambitions of Nestlé as well as facilitate the everyday labor that the company requires? This topic requires a self-organized trip to Vevey.

5. Envisioning Liberation: Interrogating Nestlé’s Corporate Record
What would a critique of Nestlé’s 'corporate responsibility strategy' be based on and look like? What archival and mapping strategies would you mobilize to go beyond the neo-liberal framework of 'corporate social responsibility' and to foreground struggles and possibilities of social and environmental justice? You are invited to explore the racialized underpinnings of Nestlé's corporate expansion and supply chains, and think of ways to visualize its effects on the rights of indigenous and formerly colonized peoples.
Lernziele - Examining the history and practice of mapping as a relation of domination.
- Develop student capacity to critically read existing maps.
- Develop new ways of observing and interrogating legacies of power in their local context, with a particular focus on the relationship between the lived experiences of communities and their overlapping urban geographies.
- Foster practical skills of satellite analysis, remote sensing and mapping.
- Producing maps using counter-cartographic tools and research methods.
Bemerkungen This course is on a first come first serve basis with Master Students of Critical Urbanisms being prioritized over students from other subject areas. Maximum capacity 30


Unterrichtssprache Englisch
Einsatz digitaler Medien kein spezifischer Einsatz


Intervall wöchentlich
Datum 26.09.2023 – 19.12.2023
Zeit Dienstag, 10.15-14.00 Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Datum Zeit Raum
Dienstag 26.09.2023 10.15-14.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Dienstag 03.10.2023 10.15-14.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Dienstag 24.10.2023 10.15-14.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Dienstag 31.10.2023 10.15-14.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Dienstag 21.11.2023 10.15-14.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Dienstag 28.11.2023 10.15-14.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Dienstag 19.12.2023 10.15-14.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 119
Module Modul: Praktiken (Master Studiengang Kulturtechniken)
Modul: Ways of Knowing the City (Master Studiengang Critical Urbanisms)
Leistungsüberprüfung Lehrveranst.-begleitend
An-/Abmeldung zur Leistungsüberprüfung Anmelden: Belegen; Abmelden: nicht erforderlich
Wiederholungsprüfung keine Wiederholungsprüfung
Skala Pass / Fail
Wiederholtes Belegen beliebig wiederholbar
Zuständige Fakultät Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät, studadmin-philhist@unibas.ch
Anbietende Organisationseinheit Fachbereich Urban Studies