Spatial humanities for an architectural historian

The main reason I am interested in Digital Humanities is because of spatial technologies, in particular mapping and the ability to overlay different data (from demographic information to literary references) over historical and contemporary maps. I have already posted about this regarding my project on the “urban world of Brazilian modernists.” I would also like to apply mapping to a couple of other projects. One of them is on informal urban and architectural projects in Sao Paulo (grassroots urbanism) in the last ten years. I want to plot these projects onto a map of the city and correlate them to socio-economic data and to sites of political street demonstrations. And another project is to map present and past sites of alternative living and art projects in Berlin. Both of these projects are tough in the sense that there isn’t a lot of documentation or data (digital or otherwise) because these were often temporary, ephemeral, and illegal initiatives. Data collection will be one of my biggest challenges; much of it will have to be done analogically and then digitized in some way (entered manually or scanned, depending on the data). I think the mapping platforms we explored (geolocation, Google Maps) will be helpful to create prototypes or early versions of these projects, but I suspect that I might have to explore GIS or maybe a custom solution (in collaboration, of course).

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