Representing Marginalized Populations: Challenges in Anthropographics

Anthropographics are human-shaped visualizations that have primarily been used within visualization research and data journalism to show humanitarian and demographic data. However, anthropographics have typically been produced by a small group of designers, researchers, and journalists, and most use homogeneous representations of marginalized populations—representations that might have problematic implications for how viewers perceive the people they represent. In this paper, we use a critical lens to examine anthropographic visualization practices in projects about marginalized populations. We present critiques that identify three potential challenges related to the use of anthropographics and highlight possible unintended consequences—namely (1) creating homogeneous depictions of marginalized populations, (2) treating marginalization as an inclusion criteria, and (3) insufficiently contextualizing datasets about marginalization. Finally, we highlight opportunities for anthropographics research, including the need to develop techniques for representing demographic differences between marginalized populations and for studies exploring other potential effects of anthropographics.
Data Visualization, Anthropographics, Diversity