“Maps are more than pieces of paper. They are stories, conversations, lives and songs lived out in a place and are inseparable from the political and cultural contexts in which they are used.” (Source: A. Warren; 2004. Cited in : G. Rambaldi: 2005 . ‘Who owns the map legend?’, URISA Journal, 17: 5–13).
It is something of a truism I guess, but without some sort of visual representation of an area of land, it can sometimes be difficult to see what the association between land and local communities is. The ‘stories, conversations, lives and songs ‘ alluded to by Warren (above) may generate a sense of place, but maps can show detailed information of a village layout and its infrastructure, or, on a larger scale a broader understanding of a community’s traditional use areas, including information related to natural resource distribution and territorial boundaries.
More on participatory mapping here. (“Participatory Mapping as a tool for empowerment” : International Land Coalition)