Counter-mapping refers to the effort of mapping against dominant power structures with the aim of creating social or political change. Counter-mapping is related to the academic field of critical cartography. 

Counter-mappers (individuals who perform counter-mapping practices) strategically use the ontological power of maps by turning maps into tools for social transformation. This practice, which goes under many different names such as ‘counter-mapping’ or ‘resistance GIS’ work to limit conservative geographies while consolidating the newly created world by its mere appearance on a map. (Pavlovskaya 2018)

Counter-mapping efforts are used, for instance, to pursue decolonial, feminist, anti-neoliberal or anti-racist aims. See for example the Mapping Prejudice project of the University of Minnesota.  This project shows how racial restrictions are embedded in the physical landscape. It maps real estate contracts which contain covenants that reserved land for the exclusive use of white people. This map is an example of how counter-mapping projects use mapping as a form of activism. 


Pavlovskaya, M. 2018 “Critical GIS as a tool for social transformation.” The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadien, xx(xx) pp. 1–15.