Majd Al-Shihabi

Sidney Smith Hall, Room 5017A | 100 St. George Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 3G3 (map)

Mapathon / ماپثون : Palestine Open Maps

Since the 1870s, British colonial entities had interest in mapping the lands of historic Palestine. The latest such effort was done by the British Mandate Authority in the 1940s. Those maps are now the only remaining records of the fabric of 500+ villages, towns, and cities that were ethnically cleansed during the Nakba. They contain details about land use, major landmarks (e.g. places of worship, government facilities, etc…), as well as original place names of lands, transliterated into English.
Palestine Open Maps ( is a platform that has compiled those map sets, and aims to disseminate them freely in the most accessible way. In this workshop, we will demonstrate a methodology for decolonizing this historical archive, by using open source tools to extract data out of historical maps, in order to make comprehensible by computers. All the data that we produce is licensed under an Open Data Commons Attribution License for anyone to use, reproduce, and adapt for their own projects.
In this event, we will introduce the project, show you how to extract data out of historic maps (this is called “vectorizing”) using open mapping tools (OpenStreetMap/osm-seed), and we will spend the rest of the session exploring the maps and vectorizing sections of it.
No previous mapping experience is necessary. All you need is a computer, curiosity and a desire to help. Please bring a laptop if you have one. If not, then you can still help by pairing up with another attendee. The more eyes the better!
Majd Al-Shihabi is a systems design engineer, based in Beirut, applying the craft of systems thinking to as many fields as he can reach. He works with a wide range of academic and cultural institutions and archives in the region to build openness into their information systems. He is interested in knowledge production outside of traditional institutions, and knowledge dissemination to wider audiences. He is an urban planning graduate student at the American University of Beirut. Majd is the inaugural recipient of the Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship, where he worked on, and the MASRAD:platform for archiving oral history.
Sidney Smith Hall (100 St. George Street, Toronto, M5S3G3) is an accessible building, with a ramp located at the Huron Street entrance. Closest TTC locations: St. George and Spadina stations, the 510 Spadina streetcar at Harbord Street, and the 94 Wellesley/Ossington bus at St. George Street.
Toronto is in the ‘Dish With One Spoon Territory’. The Dish With One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and peoples, Europeans and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s