Foreign Bodies: Mapping Experiences of Exclusion and Resistance of Migrant Women in Ottawa-Gatineau
“Migrations are made, they don’t just happen. There are conditions which cause them” (Saskia Sassen)
Although urban populations are becoming increasingly diverse, the built environment is not designed to accommodate these differences. Rather, throughout the 20th century in the Western world, the standard subject that has guided design has been the experiences of white, able-bodied, heterosexual, male populations. In contrast, Statistics Canada estimates that nearly one-third of Canadians will be foreign-born by 2036, of which 55% will be women and the majority will be from a racialized social group. Migrants are often othered, racialized, segregated in space, and frequently face higher risks of poverty, homelessness, and violence, which is particularly the case with women.
“Foreign Bodies” critically interrogates how urban mapping toolkits account for the experiences of racialized migrant women to reveal spatial and experiential patterns of social exclusion in our built environment. The study will focus on the cities of Ottawa-Gatineau, and will consists of a series of hybrid and open ended maps combining geographic information systems (GIS) and immersive diagrams and visualizations representing migrant women’s embodied experiences. These visualizations will be developed in conversations with care workers and representatives of community associations in the diverse neighborhoods of Overbrook and Herongate. This approach aims to address the limitations of the abstract, patriarchal, and colonizing gaze of standard GIS orthogonal projections and its limitations to represent the experience of migrant women to generate effective design and spatial responses for this growing urban population.