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“Caribou do not follow these lines”: Considering fuzzy representation and visualization of collective Inuit knowledge in participatory mapping - Gita J. Ljubicic & David M. Atkinson

Part of:
3:30 PM, Friday 4 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
Break   04:00 PM to 04:15 PM (15 minutes)
Participatory approaches to mapping emerged as an important means of documenting long-term Inuit land use and occupancy in early research to establish land claims. Map biographies, and later a range of participatory mapping exercises, were used as a means of sparking memories and discussions and helping to render the spatial extent of travel, occupancy, and subsistence harvesting visible to people from outside the cultural and geographic context of Inuit communities. Using participatory mapping is now a commonly employed method to complement interviews, workshops, oral histories, or on-the-land learning in Inuit knowledge research on a range of topics. In a project driven by Uqsuqtuurmiut (people of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut) priorities around caribou and community-well being (2011-2018), participatory mapping was an important method used to document and visualize collective knowledge of seasonal caribou hunting and movements on/near Qikiqtaq (King William Island). Based on hesitations expressed by Elders and hunters around drawing on maps, and qualifying commentary made while drawing, we began to question our tendency to portray the points, lines, and polygons exactly as drawn when creating thematic compilations. In this presentation, we will discuss some of the feedback provided in interviews and verification workshops that is critical interpretive context to accompany the spatial representations. In response, we developed caribou movement and hunting maps that use buffers and a fuzzy representation to more accurately portray the fluidity of caribou movements and areas where collective knowledge is shared to a greater or lesser extent. We will also discuss the rationale for these approaches to visualization and the preference expressed by Uqsuqtuurmiut for more generalized maps that go beyond points, lines, and polygons.
McMaster University
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