Street Homelessness, Visibility and Recognition
Navigating the Dilemmas of Mapping Homeless Spatialities
Keywords:Homelessness, visibility, recognition, ethics, counter-mapping, theories of practice
This article critically examines the potentialities of counter-mapping as means of facilitating public recognition of street homelessness as another (rather than Other) form of urban life. The focus is on the possibilities of countering the displacing effects of Othering through curated engagement of the housed public with the proposition about the possibility and acceptability of inhabiting the city which emerges from the unhoused manner of emplacement in shared urban settings. The attention is aimed at the uncertainties related to using a map – conceptualized as a system of ontological claims and locative assertions – as a medium of this engagement. While exploring the potential of cartographic visualization in articulating the lived perspectives of homeless dwellers and supporting their claims for belonging in the city’s public spaces, this paper examines also the risks of unleashing the power of mapping in this particular spatialized struggle for recognition. It draws attention to the ambiguities of the politics of visibility granted by mapping to spatial/meaning propositions and the limits this politics encounters when employed to intervene in the everyday politics of public space where visibility of non-normative spatialities constitutes a matter of public concern. In doing so, it complicates the notion of a link between public visibility afforded to the counter-hegemonic ontological propositions by mapping and their social recognition.
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