Unmapping the Caribbean: Toward a Digital Praxis of Archipelagic Sounding

By: Tao Leigh Goffe,  archipelagos
December 7, 2020

Tackling the conceptual grounds of how maps have been deployed as tools of imperial capitalist extraction, this essay critiques how the two-dimensional visualization of land has traditionally flattened the racial entanglement of the Caribbean archipelago. It explores how born-digital cartography can be used to open up a new sensory possibility for understanding space amplified by sonic and video technologies. The author embarked on the digital project Unmapping the Caribbean with her students and a team of technologists, employing Esri’s ArcGIS Story Maps platform to examine the contours of marronage and indigeneity in five geographies: New York City, Suriname, Hispaniola, Cuba, and Jamaica. The project anchors the relationality of sedimented racial histories in the archipelago through the concept of “unmapping”—that is, by creating digital audiovisual story maps of the five Caribbean spaces. Centering the way sound orients the human body in space, the project examines the politics of the opacity of spaces of black and indigenous refuge in Caribbean and Caribbean diasporic communities. The essay considers the pedagogical stakes of collaborative digital assignments that include mapmaking and producing visual soundtracks. The five geographic narratives that Unmapping the Caribbean has woven together are part of an ongoing project that aims to articulate archipelagic being.

 

Read the essay by Professor Tao Leigh Goffe in archipelagos archipelagos | Unmapping the Caribbean (archipelagosjournal.org)

Tao Leigh Goffe