Throughout history maps have been used and utilised as tools by those in power. The first world map was created in 1569 by a flemish cartographer named Gerardus Mercator, which inaccurately depicted Europe as larger and central compared to other countries such as Africa which were made to seem smaller.
Not only did these warped maps tremendously effect the way the world was viewed from different countries (Europe the central hub and in power), the effects of these maps are still to this day carrying repercussions. Most schools still show maps that are not to scale, and most adults would view this map as “correct” and “the normal world map”, which shows we are reiterating an injustice of power carried in this world map.
But what happens when this situation is flipped? Both literally and metaphorically. One of the earliest examples of counter-mapping is the flipped world map created by Stuart McArther, which is both to-scale and portrays Australia to be the central focus point.
One of the newest and fastest growing counter mapping movements is that of Hollaback.
Hollaback was founded by seven New York residents in 2005. The organisation was then made into a non-for-profit organisation in 2010, which enabled them to open their websites gates to the public to contribute and to build their now revolutionary site. Hollaback is a network of local activists that aim to end street harassment around the world. They are addressing this issue by collecting personal stories to form a supportive cyber community, and fighting back through documentation and surveillance exposure (Laura Green, 2013).
This blog turned social movement not only raises awareness of a serious issue but also gives a supportive online community to victims of street harassment. It also benefit both locals and tourists by showing parts of cities that should be avoided, and by perhaps counteracting previous notions of “safe” and supposedly “dangerous” parts of the city. Hollaback is not run by those in power, it is collective counter-mapping for social justice that is empowering those without a voice.