Between the Dreamtime and the GPS / The Metaphysics of Indigenous Mapping

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Gellman, Mimi
Indigenous Aesthetics , Aboriginal Cartography , Indigenous Archives , Indigenous Studies , Senses of Place , Reconciliation , Cultural Studies , Design
Although many scholars have written about the relationships between land, mapping, power relations, and sovereignty, very few have explored the relationship between the imbricated fields of Aboriginal mapping, Indigenous aesthetics and placemaking, and the ways in which Aboriginal maps, both customary and contemporary, contribute to the conversation about remembering, Indigenous knowledge production, and cultural survivance.1 If maps construct rather than reproduce the world (Wood 2008: 92), how can the documentation and creation of an Indigenous mapping archive assist in bringing forward Indigenous worldviews, in particular those that emphasize the significant interrelationships between land, aesthetics, and Indigenous senses of place? To date no such archive exists. This doctoral project sets out to conceptualize and design a mobile Indigenous mapping archive that will carry within its walls an exhibition of Indigenous artists’ maps, a mapping library, two digital interfaces, Indigenous teachings, and ceremonial artifacts. The importance of this archive lies in its ability to assist settler and Indigenous communities to mutually grapple with how land matters to Indigenous Peoples in what is now known as Canada, and specifically with the gap between “what is known and what is merely seen” (Wood 2008: 92).
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