Author Archives: countercartographies

NC Rising! Conference

we wanted to share with y’all a couple of our impressions from the workshops at NC RISING! we were able to attend thanks to the very well organized daycare service at the conference:

2 hours workshops:

RADICAL MAPPING: panelists from 3cs. nice turn out, around 50 people in a packed classroom in Saunders.
after a well crafted power point on 3cs work and other cartographic projects, people were interested in the nitty gritty steps of mapping and also in its theoretical underpinnings, bringing Foucault’s famous pair of knowledge/power several times in relationship to cartography. one of the interventions spoke about squatters in Brasil using GIS…3cs gave some hints about how to use local government websites to identify vacant buildings

OCCUPY EVERYTHING: the panelists represented the recent university occupations in New School of NYC and San Francisco State College as well as the monthly Really Really Free Market in Carrboro.
just listening to the histories of each of this struggle was worthwhile. also, among all of them, and together with interventions from the packed room in Bingham Hall, we got a kind of working definition of occupation that might be useful.
occupation, whether of a campus building, a forest, a house, a multi-story building, a construction site…. whether using chains, barricades, dance parties, exchange of goods, etc… might be understood as:
-experience of possibility
-experience of affinity and solidarity
-experience of transcending well established identities and defined roles
-the creation of a public space outside of capitalist logic
-a reference point that speaks stronger than other kinds of propaganda
-the feeling that something else, different from the norm, works

it was interesting to see that curious crowd and all the buzzing activity taking place at saunders and bingham hall, the quotidian spaces we go through on an everyday basis were temporarily transformed into a anarchist bookfare, anti-capitalist workshops and childcare service….in a way, the conference was an occupation of sorts in itself : )

March 27th: 3Cs presents at NC Rising!

3Cs presents at the NC Rising Conference on Saturday, March 27 at 4pm in Saunders 213 at UNC-CH

Radical Map-Making

We are radical mappers… we make maps that are provocative, that ask questions, that reconfigure and re-imagine public space. A map is not only a product of careful research, a reflection of the world as ‘just so,’ but a proposition, a suggestion for the way the world could, and at times should, be.

In this workshop, we’ll talk about our own work as radical map-making collective and show some tools and techniques for DIY mapmaking before launching into a collective discussion about the potentials and drawbacks of map-making and GIS for radical movements.

For more information about NC Rising

3Cs in Chicago (part 2)

Liz and Tim presented at the College Art Association Conference on the panel “Occupations: Labor, Activism, Art, and the Academy in Crisis”, sponsored by the Radical Art Caucus. The other presenters including Therese Quinn, professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and member of the AAUP and Aaron Hughes of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

We talked about 3 senses of ‘occupation’ –

  1. Our occupation as workers in the university
  2. Occupation as a struggle for university movements around the world
  3. How we use mapping to ‘re-occupy’ the university.

Therese spoke about contingent faculty organizing and ended with the following proposals,

  1. One faculty (full and part time faculty)
  2. Equal pay for equal work
  3. Job security for all
  4. Free and emancipatory education for all

Aaron discussed the relationship between education and militarization, the increasing militarization of our schools (starting at the elementary school level) and made a call for us to recognize our radical vulnerability. This relates very directly to some of the stuff we’ve been thinking about care and also opened up a whole other series of questions about the relationship between the military and the university, in terms of the class composition of the university, the relationship with immigration and research & funding.

Some of the questions we got concerned the public vs. private distinction (what does it mean that ‘public’ universities get less than a quarter of their funding from their local states?)  How can we understand and deal with what is tempting/pleasurable about ‘the private’? What do we mean by autonomous university? What is the relationship between the autonomous university and the state? How to work within the institution of the university in order to get paid, to receive course credits, and other resources?

March 4th Day of Action

On March 4, tens of thousands of students and workers across the U.S. will be taking action against budget cuts, tuition hikes, and the privatization of education as part of the March 4 National Day of Action to Defend Education. From California to New York, Chicago to Tuscaloosa, Boston to Milwaukee, Seattle to Knoxville, Gainsville to Asheville, and all points in between, students and workers will be standing up and speaking out on March 4 to defend education in what is shaping up to be one of biggest days of action this country has seen in years.


International Map of Action:

View Struggles for Higher Education in a larger map

On Facebook:

Here at UNC Chapel Hill, a coalition of groups have come together to organize a week of action leading up to March 4. Below is a schedule of events:

March 1 at 12pm in the Pit
Street Theater Action: How much does your education really cost?
March 3 at 7pm in Gardner 105
Film screening and discussion about budget cuts, tuition hikes, privatization, and access to education
March 4 at 4pm in the Pit
Gather in the Pit at 4pm for a dance-infused march featuring the beats of local samba drum corps Cackalack Thunder! We’ll march to South Building, the administration building, and make our voices against the cuts to education and for equal access to education for all loud and clear! There will be a symbolic and peaceful sit-in at South Building at the end of the march.

Please keep checking back to this facebook event for more updates and other meeting times if you’d like to get involved in organizing this week of action. We’ve got to take a stand now to defend our education before it is too late!

More info on the national day of action here:

3cs in Chicago (part 1)

Liz and Tim are in Chicago giving a series of mapping workshops and making contact with some of our collaborators up there…

Thursday night (Feb. 11) we trudged through the cold and ice through Pilsen neighborhood to a community center called Biblioteca Popular (formerly Lichen). We talked to a crowd of 20-30 map-makers and activists about our work as 3Cs and about the newly-released edu-factory book, and gave a mini mapping tutorial with an intro to free GIS data-sources and software.

There was a lot of enthusiasm for our work and for map-making in general, and it was neat to hear all the different projects folks were involved in (sound maps of Chicago neighborhoods, mapping the displacement of poor folk through gentrification, folks from Area Chicago and their web-mapping ideas, mapping anti-militarization and the university). Folks also asked some really useful critical questions:

  • One big point of discussion was how to deal with the embedded biopolitics behind data sources like US Census data that we use in our maps — as 3Cs, we often talk about how we ‘queer’ data or statistics by pulling map stories out of them that they weren’t intended for. But data sources often come so tightly bound up with state politics, white supremacist racial policies, definitions of family structure, etc., that queering them might require more conscious work than we always put in.
  • Some folks also asked whether we’ve engaged with historical examples of indigeneous counter-mapping, suggesting that we might find some useful inspirations and ideas there
  • There was also a long discussion of the idea of “using the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house”, and whether we were also focusing enough on spreading knowledge of map-making to communities that haven’t had access to the tools. It made us realize that we should actually do some grassroots map-making workshops (something we’ve talked about doing for a long time but never actually organized…)

Here are some of the links to online mapping services we showed:

  • City of Chicago GIS — great source for property data, also for mapping police stations, parks, water mains, etc.
  • Geocommons Finder and Maker — Geocommons finder is  searchable online library of GIS data that anyone can upload to. Then you can bring layers into Geocommons Maker and design your own maps (here’s the sample one we showed at the workshop).
  • Trulia hindsight ( and for more generalized real estate data
  • National Atlas and OpenStreetMaps for basic physical/infrastructure data
  • USDA Food environment atlas
  • Chicago region GIS clearinghouse
  • for open-source GIS tools. Particularly recommend JUMP, uDig and QuantumGIS

3Cs meets Carrotworkers

When in London recently, Liz met with the Carrotworkers’ Collective – a collective of ex-interns in the cultural sector, working largely around issues of free labor. Their work counters some of the myths surrounding free labor in the cultural sector, which are very similar to some of those that we’ve encountered in graduate school – it’s a rite of initiation (you have to suffer as a grad student to eventually make it into the ranks of tenured faculty), we do this work out of love (therefore we don’t need to get paid a living wage), etc.

We talked about different forms of militant research, including mapping and graphing, and ways of doing both quantitative and qualitative research. They emphasized the importance of having at least some quantitative data on the cultural sector, as well as documenting the subjective experiences of interns. One technique they’ve used is to have folks graph how they spend their time in terms of unpaid vs. paid labor and the trends and transformations over time and how people would ideally spend their time.
They are currently working on a Counter Internship Guide

We’re planning on doing a collaboration with the Carrotworkers and students at Queen Mary University in April and May of this year, more coming soon…

3Cs in Bologna

Liz recently got back from a visit to Bologna…

My first night in Bologna I gave a talk at Bartleby – an occupied space at the university and spoke about university struggles in the US and the edu-factory project. The talk was part of a week of events leading up to the strike on Friday that included other talks, meetings, music and parties. Some themes that came up in the discussion during my talk were:

– the relationship between autonomous movements and major trade unions
– the effects of student debt (universities in Italy are now beginning to charge tuition fees, forcing students to go into debt in order to study – like the US!)
– the effects of the Bologna Process and other efforts at standardization of university curriculum

The next day, I participated in the autonomous student & precarious workers’ march during the general strike, as part of the Yes We Cash campaign for a guaranteed minimum income.

Back in NC, our discussions focused on the importance and the pragmatics of having a space – in Bologna, as many other places around the world, taking over a space, not only as a temporary tactic, but to create a more permanent presence, an alternative space. These spaces are used for talks and discussions like the one I participated in, and also  more generally as meeting places, spaces to enact the kind of university we want. Could we do this? It seems much harder to permanently occupy spaces within our university campus. For one, there is much less unused space to occupy and secondly, the administration is much less willing to negotiate with students for the control of a space. Yet this shouldn’t serve as discouragement, but rather open up new lines of inquiry and action. In Italy and other places, it is the strong base of student power that forces the administration to negotiate with students – building this power from below must be one of our starting points. Some questions that might merit further research – how are spaces used and controlled on our campus? What would we like that to look like? How might we begin to go about occupying university spaces differently? What about creating alternative spaces of knowledge production outside of the university?

Map of Occupied Universities in Europe

Comrades in Germany are trying to map the protests and occupations going on in universities across Europe… (there are a lot!)

It is getting a bit hard to keep a list on which university is occupied by its students and which is not. I am trying to map the international protests for a free and better education. Please feel free to comment on the blogpost if you have further information and I will update the map.


Esto es una mapa de las universidades ocupadas en europa. Los estudiantes protestan para una educacíon libre, para condiciones mejores a los escuelas y universidades y para el afianzamiento de la democracia a los universidades. Contacta a @schaffertom via Twitter o escribe un comentario antes del texto, cuando quieres contribuir algo a la carta.