HarassMap, an advocacy organisation based in Cairo, operates an online mapping interface that uses crowdsourcing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technologies to map incidents of sexual harassment in real time. Its interface allows for a reconfiguration of Cairo’s urban landscape into ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ neighbourhoods, and raises important questions about the use of georeferencing and mapping technologies in the interest of security. By means of a walkthrough method, this thesis analyses the affordances and material arrangements of HarassMap’s interface to render visible that behind a smooth and calibrated cartographic visualisation lies an abstraction of bodies seamlessly reconfigured into calculable georeferenced targets – giving the impression of totalising and penetrable spaces, disentangled from issues of class, race, gender and power. In contrast, what my reading of HarassMap attempts to demonstrate, grounded in Lefebvre’s work on the production of space and Actor-Network-Theory (ANT), is that whilst digital spatial technologies seemingly produce ‘objective’ realities – space is inextricably gendered, racialised and subject to power relations, affecting those living in it in deeply asymmetrical ways.

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Willem Schinkel, Maja Hertoghs
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Wang, N. (2020, June 21). Perceiving Sexual Harassment, Conceiving Securitised Spaces: HarassMap and the Promise and Perils of GIS technologies. Sociology. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/61462