Feminist groups from Latin America developed body mapping methods to discuss gender identity and emotional and physical experiences in relation to our geographical contexts. The starting point of these mappings, which have emerged primarily in the context of struggles against patriarchal violence, but also for indigenous land, is the assumption that our bodies are themselves part of the territory. Our bodies are therefore the first territory on, around and through which we conduct our political struggles.
As part of the Birmingham UCU Teachouts, we conducted the workshop “Bodies, Maps, Words: A Creative Writing Workshop” with James Lewis and Cristina Fernández Recasens. Starting from the question of how we unlearned to perceive geographical space through physical feelings and intentions by maps, we asked how we actually perceive and create university space with our bodies. The participants were asked to process and play with these experiences by expressing them in poems that related to specific places on the campus. In a second workshop we placed those memories on a drawn silhouette of our bodies. We added places we like least, where we feel insecure, or have felt anger, pain or anguish as well as places we prefer and feel at ease. After sharing our body maps we discussed what they had in common and how they differed and changes we desire on campus.