The sustainable cartography of emerging and dispersed human landscapes case study: the sustainable cartography of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico
Valero Thomas, Ernesto
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The thesis is focused on the construction of cartographic systems not only as a tool for environmental representation, but also for shaping practices, values, technologies, and cultural narratives around sustainable development of human landscapes in non- Western contexts. Cartographic theory is employed to question existing mapping techniques, especially in relation to documenting sustainable development. The thesis investigates the merging of technology, science and art in the process of making maps and explores the possibility to represent several spheres of reality in cartographic elements. Representation concepts and methodologies were tested around the Mexican settlement of Ciudad Obregon, within the bioregion of the Gulf of California. Parts of the agendas for sustainable development revised stimulate the collection of dreams, images, and fantasies about non-Western human agglomerations and their ecosystems, critically informing sustainable narratives framed in other contexts. The works reviewed reveal an absence of complex cartographic and visual systems, portraying instead emerging landscapes in growing economies as exotic, mysterious, folkloric, chaotic, less developed, and in need of corrective study and supervision from a Western viewpoint. Interpretive, visual, and technological instrumentations were utilized with the aim of constructing a cartographic system that exposes dynamics of sustainable development in emerging settlements. The methodological scheme considers a series of associations between quantitative and qualitative approaches, employing eighteen dialectical negotiations in the representation of six ecologies. The outcome was a hybrid system of representation concerning bi-dimensional maps, photography, and chronicles from local newspapers. Two fieldtrips to Mexico were completed in 2012 and 2013, visiting and studying eighteen human agglomerations in total. The outcomes (measured and gathered data, perceptions, bibliography, photographs, and cartographic evidences) of both fieldtrips were linked to the hypothesis previously outlined in the literature review. The methodological structure was influenced by the cartographic representation interpretation of the biosphere of Ciudad Obregon and its natural ecosystems. On the other hand, the cartographic representation-interpretation of different networks resulted in the study of polymorphous infrastructures that facilitate the flow of goods, capital and people throughout the same territory. The correlation of the research interrogates the paradigmatic challenges of the ‘network society’ in developing contexts. It questions the notion that human settlements develop sophisticated infrastructure networks, selectively connecting together the most favoured users and places, linking valuable segments and discarding irrelevant habitats, locales and people. As the cartographic and visual evidences gathered by this research suggest, these commodity landscapes allow terrestrial and aerial flow of physical and knowledge resources (food, water, gasoline, telecommunications, transport, information, services, waste) in granulated and disseminated environments of buildings and networks, materializing a palimpsest of infrastructures. The research finds that the assessment of social, cultural, and environmental sustainability in emerging and dispersed landscapes requires an adjacent design of cartographic and visual frameworks that represent the complexity found in developing locations.
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