As the work progresses on the framework for my map of property ownership in the Highlands area of Oak Bluffs, I can now start focusing the ways in which additional types of data will be added to the map. While the structure of the map will be the spatialized deed and census data, this information is not enough to make the map a tool for the understanding the history of the community and how it was experienced by residents and visitors. This core map will serve as the basis for community members to share stories about specific places homes, people, structures, and/or environments in the neighborhood and for these stories to added to the map, providing additional context and information, potentially generating a deeper understanding of the area than can be accessed by one person, family, or perspective. In future versions of this project,

I intend to build a “memory map” that places stories provided by community members on the landscape and put these stories and places in conversation. It is in this way that the map may become a valuable tool for the community and may generate additional interest in archaeological and heritage projects.

Memory mapping can be defined as the process of building maps of specific places that center place-based stories (Battle-Baptist 2017; Hart and Homsy 2020; Morgan 2008). In memory mapping work, community members are invited to tell stories about particular places, sometimes in those places or walking through the community, and the stories and places are connected through the map. The goal of this work is to allow “memory to be read topographically” (Trostel 2018) where a history of a community is collectively built through multiple, sometimes even incongruous, perspectives and experiences of it (Hart and Homsy 2020).

Memory maps have been used to represent locally understood histories that differ from “official” historical narratives in order to allow local knowledge to be expressed in ways more recognizable to the mainstream power system; allowed community members to recognize the heritage tourism value their unique shared histories have; or allow communities to locate places that have distinctive meaning for long-time residents and newcomers (Battle-Baptist 2017:66-67; Hart and Homsy 2020:965-966). In these cases, locating memories on the landscape has challenged and expanded historical understandings of place and community, both for residents and non-residents.

Memory mapping is part of a larger push in archaeology, anthropology, history, Indigenous studies, digital humanities, and related fields that activates the recognition that “mapping orientates knowledge and experience” (Townsend et al. 2020:970) and that maps often assert as normative, colonial, white supremacist cartographic realities that seek to erase and confine other ways of knowing space (McKittrick 2006; Hart and Homsy 2020:954-955). Memory mapping, as a community-based, restorative justice mapping process that centers local knowledge, is similar in outcome to participatory mapping and counter mapping techniques (Platt 2020).

I am learning about memory mapping because the collaborative methods used to build the maps encourage conversations across and among various separations—generation, length of residence, identity, relationships, and residency status–within communities and highlights the differences and similarities which make up the community. I hope to share more as I learn and work with this type of mapping and I would appreciate any input, conversation, and reading suggestions!

Battle-Baptiste, Whitney (2017) “Cruise Ships, Community, and Collective Memory at Millars Plantation, Eleuthera, Bahamas.” Historical Archaeology, 51:60–70.   

Hart, Siobhan M.  and George C. Homsy (2020) “Stories from North of Main: Neighborhood Heritage Story Mapping.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 24:9 70–96.

McKittrick, Katherine (2006) Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle. University of Minnesota Press

Morgan, Colleen (2008) “Memory Maps.” Remixing El Presidio, May 27, 2008

Platt, Sarah (2020) “Urban Dialectics, Misrememberings, and Memory-Work: The Halsey Map of Charleston, South Carolina.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 24:989– 1014.

Townsend, Russell, Kathryn Sampeck, Ethan Watrall, and Johi D. Griffin (2020) “Digital Archaeology and the Living Cherokee Landscape.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 24:969–988.

Trostel, Katherine G. (2018) “City of (Post) Memory: Memory Mapping in Nona Fernández’s 2002 Mapocho.” Arizona Quarterly, 74:119-143. https://doi-org /10.1353/arq.2018.0005