Space is a social construction based on values, the social production of meanings and not exempt from political interests which affect spatial practices and perceptions. This Is Not an Atlas gathers more than 40 counter-cartographies from all over the world. This collection shows how maps are created and transformed as a part of political struggle, for critical research or in art and education: from indigenous territories in the Amazon to the anti-eviction movement in San Francisco; from defending commons in Mexico to mapping refugee camps with balloons in Lebanon; from slums in Nairobi to squats in Berlin; from supporting communities in the Philippines to reporting sexual harassment in Cairo. This Is Not an Atlas seeks to inspire, to document the underrepresented and to be a useful companion when becoming a counter-cartographer yourself.
This book is a project of Kollektiv orangotango, founded in 2008. Since then it has been constantly developing through a network of critical geographers, friends and activists who deal with questions regarding space, power and resistance. With their geographical activism, they seek to support processes and oppositional actors who instigate social change by prefiguring social alternatives. They conduct emancipatory educational work as well as concrete political and artistic interventions. These are supposed to enforce reflections on and changes of social conditions. Through workshops, publications, mappings, excursions, and creative interventions within public space, they collectively learn how to read space and how to initiate emancipatory processes from below. By sticking to the traditions of activist research, they connect theoretical reflections and concrete actions.
So far they have engaged in the fields of right to the city, urban agriculture, critical pedagogy, alternative housing and solidarity economy, mostly in Europe and also in Latin America. Kollektiv Orangotango also functions as a platform for different actions. In the case of This is Not an Atlas, the publication was realised in cooperation with other activists and academics. Reason why they named themselves that way.