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Body mapping: feminist-activist geographies in practice

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Thembi Luckett, Dr Jen Bagelman



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Body mapping is an intimate cartographic process that involves tracing the body and exploring one’s embodied experience. This visual, arts-based process is highly reflective, designed to empower communities to express and share stories – often those difficult to utter. Steeped in various activist and feminist traditions, body mapping is also a practice of care. It is not just about producing a map but is also about coming together to tend to the body and build solidarities to generate change. Our article seeks to expand creative conversation around the value of body mapping for geographers as both a research method and pedagogical tool which may enable multiple bridges to be crossed: activist and academic, generational, and linguistic. This article centers body mapping where it was first articulated as a research method – South Africa – and reflects on a 3-day workshop with the Waterberg Women Advocacy Organization to map the gendered impacts of extractive industries. By insisting on community ownership of both the mapping process and maps themselves – where and how they get used – data sovereignty remains at the heart of this method. This data sovereignty is not insignificant, given the persistent landscapes of extraction in the Global South. Perhaps most critically, the feminist ethos underpinning body mapping explored here provides tangible ways in which our work as geographers can cultivate spaces of care with and for communities who regularly experience the abdication of care.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Luckett T, Bagelman J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cultural Geographies

Year: 2023

Volume: 30

Issue: 4

Pages: 621-627

Print publication date: 01/10/2023

Online publication date: 14/06/2023

Acceptance date: 02/04/2023

Date deposited: 16/07/2023

ISSN (print): 1474-4740

ISSN (electronic): 1477-0881

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/14744740231179479


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Funder referenceFunder name
European Union Horizon 2020
Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant