Ethnographic mapping

Download Google Earth Pro

The University of Victoria Ethnographic Mapping Lab provided the teaching resources for this activity. For more please go to

We’re going to use Google Earth to have a quality conversation about land-based cultural practices. It’s so detailed and immersive, it’s a better tool than the topo map. But the caution is that you have to have the conversation in a way that it’s adequately documented.

Use the slides below to learn how to use Google Earth for Ethnographic Mapping

Today's Activity

  1. Pair up and interview each other about special places. 
  2. Draw polygons and points in Google Earth on-the-fly.  
  3. Be sure to document the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN for each point.
  4. Organize your information into folders.
  5. Use Custom Icons for ethnographic mapping
  6. Add photos.
  7. Alternate who is interviewing whom (you can do one section of the individual worldviews questions below at a time and then alternate).
  8. Save your work!! Email your map to the interviewee.
  9. Make a tour.

The Importance of Place in Shaping Worldviews

What factors go into shaping an individual worldview?

First is family and local culture

  1. Where do your ancestors come from, i.e. what country or part of the world?
  2. Where were your grandparents born (all four of them)?
  3. Where were your parents born (if this is different from where grandparents were born, examine why)
  4. Where were you and your siblings born?
  5. What place in the world do you identify with in terms of identity?

What are the nonhuman influences in your life?

  1. What is your favorite place in the world?
  2. Where is your favorite tree, body of water, place to relax, etc.?
  3. Where was your favorite place to play (or hide) when you were 5 years old? 10 years old? 15? Today?
  4. Who were the most important animals in your life?
  5. Where did you see the most interesting, unusual, or otherwise, animal you have ever seen?

Spiritual Elements and beliefs help shape your thinking

  1. Where are the spots that are sacred to your beliefs located?
  2. Where are your personal sacred places?

Suggested Reading

Sébastien Caquard & William Cartwright (2014). Narrative Cartography: From Mapping Stories to the Narrative of Maps and Mapping. The Cartographic Journal. The World of Mapping. Volume 51, 2014 - Issue 2: Cartography and Narratives