A map is not a product, the temporary representation of reality, but rather the most visible component at the surface of an ongoing and often contested mapping process. This significant epistemological recognition directs our attention towards the linkages between 'mapped space', 'everyday space', and 'spaces of knowledge building and decision-making'. Applying an organizational ethnography and critical cartography, this paper argues that a shift in the production and circulation of spatial knowledge concerning coastal set-back lines occurred in Cape Town. It describes the shift, interrogates how it came about, and what the implications are.As a governance instrument to promote risk-averse decision-making concerning dynamic coastal ecosystems and coastal infrastructure exposed to storm surges and sea-level rise, the set-back line discursively and materially re-shapes people's realities. But its delineation and the linked multi-actor discussions led by the City of Cape Town's Coastal Management Unit (CMU) also emerge from a specific context. Caught in a constant balancing act between varying interests, sources of knowledge and epistemologies on map-making, the CMU engaged in strategic negotiations and counter-mapping. Effectively acting as 'champions', or 'bureaucratic activists', local government officials enabled the transition towards a reflexive, iterative and inclusive delineation process, departing from a technical knowledge building model according to which coastal engineers and consultants still dominate the intellectual space regarding coastal risk governance in South Africa.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2015.12.016, hdl.handle.net/1765/84094
Habitat International
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Desportes, I., & Colenbrander, D. R. (2016). Navigating interests, navigating knowledge: Towards an inclusive set-back delineation along Cape Town's coastline. Habitat International, 54, 124–135. doi:10.1016/j.habitatint.2015.12.016