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World-Traveling to Redesign a Map for Migrant Women: Humanitarian Technical Communication in Praxis

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Purpose: Humanitarian audiences are inaccessible to our traditional methods of research. Audiences like migrants often rely on technical communication to find humanitarian aid; however, there are few methodologies that can help us improve materials for them. This project explores world-traveling to demonstrate how the methods of other fields can help us take a proactive approach in critiquing and improving the technical communication from humanitarian operations.

Methods:World-traveling is the practice of seeing through another's eyes to anticipate what they may need (Lugones, 2003). It calls us to travel from our privileged "worlds," spaces we inhabit as scholars, into the worlds of vulnerable populations. The practice helps researchers understand the worlds of marginalized populations and help them. I world-travel to migrant women in an archive to improve a map that migrants use to find water in the Arizona desert.

Results: World-traveling allowed me to anticipate problems. I found that migrant women are at a much higher risk of death by exposure than men and that the current maps of water hide this risk. I redesigned the map with the intent to lessen the risk of death by exposure for migrant women. The redesign made it clear that women are at risk of a certain harm while also taking steps to humanize the women displayed on the map.

Conclusion: World-traveling allowed me to show migrant women the increased risk of death by exposure through a redesigned map. The result is more useful and humane technical communication.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2022

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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