In times of the global pandemic, around the world, different organizations use maps to visualize where solidarity practices occur. These maps facilitate access to vital resources and services. In some cases, they are used also, to organize solidarity, to coordinate distribution and show where we can engage ourselves.
While maps illustrating the pandemic’s spreading became omnipresent in both traditional and social media during the last months, and the term ‘solidarity’ gained prominence as the single most applied commonplace in early 2020, the current situation generates a surge of web-based solidarity maps. The authors of these maps are diverse – longtime community activists, newly formed grassroots movements, engaged academics, neighbourhood mutual aid groups, local governments… Similarly, scale, illustrated data, aesthetics and technical realisation of the maps vary significantly.
Both, the increase in use of crowd-sourced online maps and the proliferation of the concept of solidarity, at first, seem to be gratifying news. Yet, this urges us, more then ever, to ask the key questions of critical cartography: Who is mapping? Who is being mapped? Which (hidden) interests does the map promote? And, as our friend and collegue Prof. Dilermando Cattaneo reminds us in his recent reflection on “Geography, solidarity networks and mutual aid“, we should scrutinize warily which actors and practices claim the notion of solidarity, to prevent the erosion of a concept so crucial to radical theory and practice ever since Pyotr Kropotkin’s seminal works of early anarchist geography.
The map below illustrates areas covered by some covid-solidarity-maps of local, regional or national reach. If you know others and want them to be represented, too, write us an email, informing name of the map, short description, covered area, and link URL.
In collaboration with community organizations of the Northern Coast of Rio Grande do Sul and militant geographers of the UFRGS’s Campus Litoral, we are creating a crowd-sourced online map that visualizes solidarity-networks and facilitates the creation of new ones. It shows where people can donate foodstuffs and other everyday materials or engage themselves, as well as where those in need can access these materials. It also visualizes public institutions where emergency social assistance can be accessed. Besides the data collected by community researchers, content can be added by anybody through this form.
This collective mapping and its integration in local struggles is possible only due to the long-standing militancy of geographers – students and professors jointly – with local communities. It’s based on a commitment to non-hierarcical relations both inside academy and between academics and local community networks. In the context of the health crisis and particularly reckless governments, more then ever, it is crucial to bring academic tools to the hands of popular struggles. This map’s content is built in continuous dialogue with urban and rural communities, quilombolas, indigenous reposessions and fishing communities a.o., whose demands are regularly missed or violated by public policies and institutionalized non-profits.
In an unequal world, in the wake of the pandemic, let’s practice radical solidarity!