Towards transdisciplinary archival strategies: Canadian cartographic materials in a digital context

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Castron, Melissa
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Through an examination of the complex history of cartographic records in their archival contexts, this thesis explores the inherent subjectivity of maps, the archives that acquire them, and the digital technologies routinely used to create these materials. I discuss parallels between archival and cartographic theory from the nineteenth century to the present and demonstrate that recent developments in the two fields are mutually reinforcing, as they emphasize the subjectivity of professional cartographers and archivists while rejecting simplistic assumptions about the objectivity and purportedly technical nature of mapmaking and archiving. Focusing on theoretical and practical developments in archives and cartography, this thesis supports self-reflexive and transdisciplinary approaches to cartographic materials in Canadian archives. The first chapter delves into the theoretical foundations and more recent developments in the two fields. This exploration continues in the subsequent chapters, where the two case studies explore the creation of cartographic materials and their processing by archives (i.e. their appraisal, arrangement and description, preservation and being made available to archival researchers). The first case study illustrates the rift between theory and practice, focusing on Canada Land Inventory (CLI) materials held by Library and Archives Canada. An analysis of the creation and ongoing management of these materials reveals the role of cartography and archives in the formation of Canada as a modern colonial state, and in the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous Peoples. The second case study is situated within the broader history of digital technologies, focusing on the digital cartographic tools deployed through Cybercartography while exploring how these might be employed in support of decolonization and reconciliation processes. This case study illustrates the benefits of crossing these two fields, articulating a new, transdisciplinary approach to cartographic materials in archives.
Archives, Cartography, Transdisciplinary, Cybercartography, Canada land inventory