Follow Us:

 

Mapping is important because it allows us to respond to broad geographical and societal issues. Maps are useful to understand and identify spatial links and explain concepts in a visual way that can be easily understood.

Maps represent compilations of information about selected physical and human features. They are diversified in the kinds of information they present. For example:

Artefacts Physical evidence left in the wake of human interaction that can help to indicate a particular cultural bias. This can include rituals, behavioural norms, shared language, reward systems, logos and office design
Beliefs What does the community value and regard as being important? This is seen in the moral and ethical codes of the society
Control Is power based around the structure of the community. To what extent does this affect negative or positive political action within the community?
Discourse What is the balance between the open and hidden elements within the community? To what extent will people open up and talk about issues in a shared environment and to what extent are issues held for debate in private, closed and secure groups? This gap between the open and hidden levels of discourse can be used to understand the difference between the espoused and actual cultural factors
Energy Where is the energy expended? Is the focus on addressing issues at a Micro, Macro or Meso level, or across levels?
Flow How do people move in, out and within community groups?
Generative To what extent does the society understand and drive its capability to innovate and build capacity? Do individuals feel that they are empowered to develop themselves? To what extent is knowledge shared between individuals and what infrastructure exists to facilitate the sharing of knowledge?

Mapping is widely valued in communities as tools that can assist in decision making.

By making the "invisible" become "visible", cultural mapping provides real insights into diverse people, history, identity, and knowledge thereby advancing the spirit of cultural pluralism.

Other advantages of cultural mapping include:

Documentation of cultural resources

Cultural mapping serves as a cultural repository of local knowledge and resources. In this modern and borderless society, it is crucial to document local traditions and historical sites which are disappearing and deteriorating at unprecedented heights.

Community empowerment

Cultural mapping is more productive and beneficial when the local community is involved in identifying and mapping out resources that are meaningful to them. This participatory approach oftentimes engenders a communal sense of belongingness and pride of their cultural roots, empowers the community, and instills great pride in their cultural identity.

Effective cultural resource management

In the cultural mapping process, it is essential that the local people themselves control their own information. As key holders of intangible knowledge and tangible assets, they carry the role of determining which type of map is produced or methodology used in managing their resources. In this sense, a great degree of community control over their cultural resources is encouraged and strengthened.

Community economic development

In mapping out cultural resources, knowledge systems from traditional arts and crafts to agricultural practices are unveiled and made known to the community and to others. These old but ingenious practices and skills may be learned, revitalized, and applied in new creative ways for sustainable community development. In other words, cultural mapping can create livelihood opportunities.

Transmission of local knowledge systems

When cultural elements are recorded in tangible and 'soft' forms, it becomes possible to pass these cultural assets from one generation to another and from one country to another. Needless to say, oral traditions are equally important and valid but tangible and visual expressions of knowledge, values, and spiritual forms are more relevant and credible testimonies in asserting one's identity and rights at the local or international scene. 

Promotion of intercultural dialogue

As important knowledge systems, distinct heritage and histories are recorded, kept and shared across time and borders, a meaningful medium for giving expressions to diverse cultures is created and a space for intercultural dialogue is made possible.

Mapping in itself does not necessarily benefit a specific group of people or region. It is through the varying and meaningful ways and methods used that cultural mapping serves as a channel to preserve cultural diversity and encourage intercultural dialogue. In the process of cultural mapping, relevant cultural information and traditional knowledge systems of a given community are revealed.