Bill Pascoe deposited Mapping Meaning: learnings from indigenous mapping technology for Australia’s digital humanities mapping infrastructure on Humanities Commons 3 years, 7 months ago
Time Layered Cultural Map (TLCMap) is an ambitious, ARC funded, digital humanities mapping infrastructure initiative in Australia. TLCMap infrastructure is for everyone, but the inspiration, conception and development of it has always had Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mapping at its heart. If Australian culture is world famous for anything it is the world’s oldest living culture, a culture for which connection to country is of vital importance. Many years ago, when a simple desire took shape to make it possible for people to add cultural layers to maps that other people could find, it was unthinkable without first considering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and mapping technology, ‘learning from’ rather than ‘learning about’. Indigenous views on country and its representation have factored into the software architecture and vision from the beginning. Aileen Moreton-Robinson describes indigenous and colonizing cultures as ‘incommensurable’. While no translation is perfect, iconic art works such as Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri’s Warlugolong demonstrate how indigenous ontologies and ethics can be translated across cultures. Reading maps, we start learning to read the multilayered intersecting meanings of ‘country’ itself, enhancing our ethical relationships to places. The transformational effect that the Colonial Frontier Massacres project has had on Australian culture was a catalyst sparking recognition of the important role digital humanities maps can play in the lives of Australians and played a role in the truth telling process of reconciliation. Five of the main projects in TLCMap are focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and both acknowledge history and celebrate living culture. These projects come to TLCMap already as collaborations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and indigenous Australians are employed in TLCMap software development and research.