Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mapping the squatter zones

The Jamaican government is planning to map all the squatter communities on the island, a Jamaican radio station reports. This could be a good move, a prelude towards recognition of squatting as a legitimate enterprise. But, ominously, the Ministry of Land and the Environment has announced that it will set up zero-tolerance zones, where informal settlers will not be tolerated. And what will become of the longstanding squatter settlements that are in these 'no-go' zones?

A better strategy would be to work with the squatters to map their own communities. Including them in the process will make these maps a point of community pride.


Bryan Finoki said...

A slightly larger version of that map can be viewed here.

rn said...

Thanks, Bryan. Perhaps it's my eyes, but I still can't read it. Do you have any clue what the map actually says?

Bryan Finoki said...

not one. was hoping maybe someone here reading might be from jamaica and could shed some light on the subject. of course, that could just be part of their cartographic strategy, make the maps barely legible and ambiguous enough, so as to not really legally define anything, so thus, in a subversive way, deterritorialize the squatters however they see fit. with binding new legal map documents, of course. i mean, do governments make maps of poor communities to acknowledge them, or merely carve them up and slowly erase them?

but, as i am still drinking my coffee, maybe i am just need to shake off my morning sarcasm.

rn said...

Well said, Bryan. I think I didn't have enough coffee and was too credulous of the Jamaican government's plan.

Clay said...

As I understand it, this is what it looks like when the Jamaican govt tries to do something "participatory." They've been talking about doing community based mapping, allowing and encouraging self organized neighborhoods to map their own territory rather than go through the unbelievably cumbersome National Land Agency procedures.

However, the lawyers and surveyors are dug in like ticks down there, so I'm sure they'll try to find a way to screw this up.