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Cultures of enthusiasm: an ethnographic study of amateur map-maker communities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217–229
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Accepted/In press8 Oct 2018
Published18 Sep 2019


King's Authors


Further attention should be paid to contextualizing the spaces and practices of amateur map-making. Doing so will provide further insight into the ways that maps, mapping epistemologies, and mapper identities emerge in the practices of everyday life. In order to deconstruct the map, and ultimately the power of maps, it is necessary to investigate maps from the bottom up as well as the top down. The motivations of amateur cartographers, the contexts in which map-making takes place, and the technological processes involved are all important factors to consider when examining how and why maps are produced. Empirical ethnographic evidence from a study of OpenStreetMap and humanitarian "mapping parties" is presented here to demonstrate how the often overlooked cultures of amateur map-making offer novel perspectives on who contemporary map-makers are and what motivates them to map. It is shown that amateur map-making is a broad category that includes close-knit hobby communities and more diverse groups of enthusiastic volunteers. As cartography continues to open up and become more accessible through a range of digital mapping technologies, studying these shifts will be important for understanding how and why the role of the map in contemporary life is changing.

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