The Walker as Mappist: Psychogeography and the (Caribbean) City

“Block after block, I keep trying to search for what lies beyond. Beyond my own neighborhood, beyond my awareness, beyond my self. I am searching for what the city’s communities hold forth and hold back, recognizing that, as Alfred Kazin once said of lights along Jamaica Avenue, ‘they were searching out so many new things in me’.”

So wrote Garnette Cadogan in Nonstop Metropolis, a landmark atlas of New York created by Rebecca Solnit and current Pioneer Works writer-in-residence, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. In this workshop led by Jelly-Schapiro and Cadogan—essayist, editor, and walker extraordinaire—we will explore how any city, whether New York or Kingston or Port-au-Prince, contains at least as many ways to be mapped as it does people; how we all forge maps that are also stories, in our heads or otherwise, to make sense of the places we live; how such processes occur in the Caribbean cities—including New York—that the workshop leaders know best.  Finally, we will use Cadogan’s essay “Round and Round,” from Nonstop Metropolis—which describes a 24-hour walk Cadogan took through New York’s five boroughs—to explore the relation between walking and mapping.

So doing, we will walk through the PORTOPRENS exhibition now on view at Pioneer Works and subsequently  through nearby streets, concluding with a self-mapping exercise, to explore how walking can function as both barometer, revealing the cultural and social character of our surroundings, and as mediator, creating a bridge between data and stories.



Joshua Jelly-Schapiro is the author of Island People: The Caribbean and the World and the co-editor of Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas. A geographer and writer, he is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and his work has also appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, The Believer, and The Nation. He teaches at NYU and is currently the inaugural resident in Narrative Arts at Pioneer Works.

Garnette Cadogan is an essayist who served as editor-at-large of Nonstop Metropolis. Currently a Scholar in Residence at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, his essay “”Black and Blue” (aka “Walking While Black”), first published in Freeman’s, has been much anthologized and published in several languages. He is at work on a book about walking.