For my final project I will study race in the town of Davidson as it has changed over the last 50 or so years. Because the topic of race and place is so personal and individualized, I want to make this into an oral history that is presented over time through mapping tools. Hearing the stories of Davidson residents of all colors and relating those stories to each other and the physical history of the town will be my biggest task. Even though racial trends can be very academic, they affect different people different ways and part of my project is contextualizing these understandings in a physical way through maps. One of the best tools for this is the mental map. Katrina Soni asserts in her piece “Exploring Human Dimensions of Multifunctional Landscapes Through Mapping and Map-Making”, “mental maps are an amalgam of information and interpretation reflecting not only what an agent knows about places but also how he or she feels about them,”(27). My mental map of the town of Davidson will be very different from another students’ based on my year and the amount of time I have(not) spent exploring, which is reflecting that I know very little about the town because up until recently, I never felt it was integral to know much about the town. Because my center is the campus and I do not have a car on campus, my mobility is limited. I think this is related to the idea of mapping supermarkets in which the person who is asked to map the local supermarket versus a larger chain market. Because of frequency of visits, people knew how to map the stores they frequented often just as I could map Davidson College but not anywhere past the train tracks or Main Street really because I don’t visit those area frequently.
Looking at Seth Long’s piece, “Digital Maps and Social Space” speaks explicitly to the point that maps are selective in what they display which reflects on the cartographer. When we looked at maps of Davidson in the archives, the map that didn’t show past the train tracks which is the African American area of Davidson had an explicit message about Davidson: that part of town is not important. Drawing form Lefebrve’s Production of Space, when thinking about the Sparrows Nest or the Train Tracks themselves, both structures that represent segregation in Davidson, the Sparrow’s Nest outlives its original purpose while the train tracks still represent a divide between socio-economic classes and races.
My goals are: tell the story of Davidson from accounts of people who have lived here for a long time against the backdrop of a physical landscape of a map. My next step includes meeting with Dr. Blodgett in Archives to get leads on different people for interviews and for an overview on how the town has changed.