Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: Anthropology launches site with cartographies of crises

A generation that never knew about curfews used to hear those words and announcements that are now part of the daily news. There, in the talks held by the School of Anthropology to process that moment in the country, students and teachers wondered how it would be possible to contribute to the reflection on this time: milestones in national history seemed to be occurring on each side, and the pandemic still was to come.

“There was a lot of concern and uncertainty about what was happening. The question that the students asked us was what contribution we could make as anthropologists. It occurred to us to do a collaborative project, with teachers and students. We called it ‘Cartography of the Crisis’, in the singular at the beginning, because we did not know that so many crises were going to come in a row ” , says Felipe Palma, coordinator of the Laboratory of Visual Anthropology (LAV UC) .

Registration of Vicuña Mackena during the social outbreak of 2019.
This university space, born in 2018, has generated projects with its own stamp that aim to renew and broaden the view of what can be done from this academic discipline. Thus, they have produced micro documentaries on the contemporary search for Mapuche identity in Kütral , and other initiatives that mix research with the tools of the arts.

Through the -now plural- Cartography of Crises , the idea was to create a website where a map would be put together based on the experiences of Chileans during the social outbreak and, later, with the covid-19 pandemic .

The invitation -in the beginning only open to students and teachers of the UC Anthropology career-, focused on those interested in sending their records in multimedia format, receiving texts, videos, audios, photographs and drawings, as well as a file with the data for the geolocation of that file.

The participants of this project had to send at least two types of records, between photographs, videos, audios and other formats.
The result of this can already be seen by browsing the Crisis Mapping website : images of helicopters flying over a house and the sound that those inhabitants felt during the outbreak; stories of the intimate life of quarantine; the walking route someone takes their pet among the restrictions; or the entertainment put to the limit in the confinement, depicted in the photo of a child who is distracted by looking at how a washing machine works.

“We realized that we were in a cycle of crisis and we thought about this collective mapping of what this time is like. The goal is for all of us to realize how this society is changing, and at the same time make the community participate ” , explains Felipe Palma.

After receiving around one hundred registrations, you can currently browse this map and its experiences randomly or through thematic categories, organized by LAV UC. Building this experience meant working in partnership with programmers and designers, something that points to the essence of how the School of Anthropology thinks today.

The intimacy of the people and the views that they value from the confinement, are part of the stories gathered in the Cartography of the Pandemic section of this digital initiative.
“We use two concepts for this and other projects: one is the idea of a public anthropology, with inspirations that are more massive in scope and do not remain confined in spaces only for experts; an anthropology that has an opinion and that interacts with society. The second factor is that of research-creation: to generate results that not only see the written text as the only way out, but also that we can open the range of materials and supports, take tools from the arts that enter into dialogue with other audiences ” , he says Felipe Palma.

To learn more about Crisis Cartography, you can attend its virtual launch on April 6, where the creators will talk about this experience. In addition, you can send your own records to continue promoting this choral map in the “Send Contribution” section of this website, attaching at least 2 types of media from writings, audios, drawings, videos or photographs.

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