From Redlining to Benevolent Societies

Mitchell, K. and Elwood, S. 2012. From Redlining to Benevolent Societies: The Emancipatory Power of Spatial Thinking. Theory and Research in Social Education 40, 134-163.

This study highlights the power of place, and reconceptualizes geography education as integral to the larger project of teaching for democratic citizenship. Using an interactive web platform, the researchers asked 29 seventh grade girls to research and map significant cultural and historical places associated with an ethnic group, or women, in the city of Seattle.  The students worked in teams and commented frequently on each other's contributions.  Adopting a participatory action research method, the researchers studied the multiple ways in which a greater understanding of spatial production, such as processes of exclusion and inclusion, or mapping and counter-mapping, can give students the knowledge and will to challenge prevailing norms about the 'naturalness' of a segregated urban landscape, or the inequitable allocation of resources.  This approach follows recent feminist, anti-racist and internationalist articulations of citizenship education, which advocate a social justice or emancipatory component to teaching and learning.