Mapping radical communities for a new dialogue

Sadia Sharmin, Louisa Scherer

Published in Issue 2.2 // Conversations

Keywords: Self-organized settlements; Re-evaluation of space; Interdisciplinary approach; Counter-mapping; Collective knowledge-production


It is no secret that the major burdens of imbalanced urbanization are carried by marginalized communities, as experienced in Bangladesh. Fragmented development interventions initiated by NGOs or the state in the last decade have had only partial impacts on the housing and livelihoods of these social groups. To find new strategies for the right to housing, the Habitat Forum Berlin team focuses on the production and re-evaluation of space within the complex socio-political fabric of self-organized settlements. In our long-term action research in Dhaka’s largest unauthorized settlement, Karail basti, we follow an interdisciplinary approach to understand the settlement’s social-physical structure and identify forms of resistance within the community. Mapping is an important tool for us to initiate participation and generate new dialogue. In the article, we reflect on our interdisciplinary methodologies, especially those that contribute to the counter-mappings that guide our process of collective knowledge-production.

Sadia Sharmin is a researcher of non-profit research organization Habitat Forum Berlin. Her research interest focuses on the re-evaluation of space in Karail basti, Dhaka and she works with the community with an aim of collective knowledge-production. Sadia is also a lecturer at the Department of Architecture in Military Institute of Science and Technology, Dhaka.

Louisa Valeska Scherer is currently doing her PhD, investigating the multifunctional uses of space in Karail basti, Dhaka and how these spatial practices can be visualized. She is a researcher of non-profit research organization Habitat Forum Berlin and works as a scientific assistant at the Institute of Urbanism and Urban Studies, TU Dresden. 

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