Saturday, November 25, 2006

3Cs / counter-cartographies collective

3Cs is a working group of the Cultures of Economies Project supported by the University Program of Cultural Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

3Cs formed in the spring of 2005 as a way to explore the uses of cartography and map-making to critically understand and intervene in the world we live in, especially the communities, ecologies and economies of our university.

3Cs is a network of people contributing their skills and knowledge to build a common project for a different/better University. As an open collective, 3Cs attempts to engage in non-hierarchical forms of decision-making, as well as participatory and action-oriented projects.

Terms like globalization, global networks, cyber infrastructures, mass immigration, global free trade policies leave us questioning how these issues pertain to us. Is it just something that happens “out there”? Mapping provides a way to make the connections between UNC and the “real world” visible.

Maps are more and more common in daily life. Through popular programs such as Google Maps and Pentagon mainframe cartographic systems, mapping is an increasingly important way for individuals and institutions to frame their roles and activities in the world. Mapping the university challenges existing notions of higher education institutions and our roles in them.

In referring to the work of Foucault and post-Foucaultian social theory as the ‘new cartographer’ (along with the new archivist), Gilles Deleuze pointed to a mode of investigation and writing that sought, not to trace out representations of the real, but to construct mappings that refigure relations in ways that render alternative worlds. In this project, we begin with this understanding of new cartographies/new mappings, and then turn to the ways in which these new mappings are emerging within social movement, activist, and artist projects to rethink economic practices and institutions. In forging this research group, we are interested in understanding how this particular genealogy of a new cartography is being and can be mobilized to render new images (and practices) of economies, how it is being deployed in community and alternative economic projects, and how it is being used to understand the institutions and networks of economic organizations such as corporations, military-state economies, and the university.

The Rethinking Economies Research Group emerged over the past eight months out of conversations stimulated by the Cultures of Economies Research Group (COE) and the Social Movements Research Group (SMRG). The focus on mapping and new cartographies emerged out of specific sections of the SMRG focused on ‘Spacing Movements’ and the emergence in social movements of innovative appropriations of mapping practices and theory to study and mobilize interest around structures and practices of the economy, alternative economic spaces of interaction and flows, and approaches to the refiguration of the local.

In the next year we plan to focus on conceptual and technical issues involved in using these new mappings to elaborate the topographies and topologies of economic relations and power;using network and meshwork mappings to make new relations/spaces/practices visible, including experimental mappings of institutional and individual movements and flows. The mappings group will also be working with the Alternative Economies Community Group and with other community and participatory mapping projects to develop experimental mappings of community, state, and private economies. The purpose of these mappings is partly to rethink and refigure the role of representation of spaces, regions, and identities in thinking economies. It is also partly an effort to investigate the possibilities for a cartographic economics that responds to the methodological and conceptual innovations deriving from genealogy, schizoanalysis, situationism, and psycho-geography.

One specific area on which the group will focus in this first year is building links to artists and artist groups working with mappings. From the intersection between mapping and traditional art found in the work of such figures as Oyvind Fahlstrom and Mark Lombardi to theorists such as Brian Holmes’ reworking of the role of space in contemporary site-specific projects (particularly those of the Situationists), the concept of the ‘map’ has become even more central to contemporary visual culture. It is our hope to further explore this connection through the study of relevant readings, visiting speakers, but also events that will allow for academics and artists to begin a dialogue about these issues. There are several individuals in the local area and we hope to organize ‘evenings with’ these artists, in conjunction with the Ackland Museum.

disOrientation guide 2006

Over the spring and summer of 2006, 3Cs worked in collaboration with other campus and community groups to produce the first disOrientation map to UNC. Designed for incoming first-year undergraduate and graduate students, as well as new faculty, the map details UNC's local and global ties, decentering the notion of the university as "ivory tower" and positing overlapping and conflicting notions of UNC as "... a functioning body," "... a factory," "... producing your world". The map also contains gobs of useful information about courses offered at UNC, interesting community groups, even coffee shops!

3Cs Documents / Maps / Presentations / Papers & Articles