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Collectively mapping borders

by Meghan Kelly

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) calls the ongoing Syrian conflict “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.” Since 2011, violence has led to nearly 220,000 lives lost, 6.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced, and over 4 million have fled across borders. While the written and photographic reporting of Syrian stories uses captivating imagery and testimonials to convey the traumatic experiences of individuals, the expression of these experiences in the accompanying cartographic coverage is limited.

She asked the following research question: How can the cartographic portrayal of Syrian peoples’ border crossings be improved to better represent their experiences? She interviewed seven humanitarian workers, activists, and displaced Syrians and through a critical feminist lens, she developed an alternative mapping solution that more accurately reflects Syrian border (traditional and non-traditional) crossings.


Meghan Kelly is a cartographer and PhD student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She’s interested in all things mapping related. She make maps, teach mapmaking, and think and rethink mapping practice. Her dissertation explores the intersections of mapping and feminist theory.

Last Updated:
21th of June, 2023

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