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Cartography, territory, property: postcolonial reflections on indigenous counter-mapping in Nicaragua and Belize

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1811/52137

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Title: Cartography, territory, property: postcolonial reflections on indigenous counter-mapping in Nicaragua and Belize
Creators: Wainwright, Joel; Bryan, Joe
Issue Date: 2009-04
Publisher: SAGE
Citation: Joel Wainwright and Joe Bryan, "Cartography, territory, property: postcolonial reflections on indigenous counter-mapping in Nicaragua and Belize," Cultural Geographies 16, no. 2 (2009): 153-178. doi:10.1177/1474474008101515
DOI: 10.1177/1474474008101515
Abstract: The attention given to indigenous peoples' use of maps to make claims to land and rights of self-government raises the question: what exactly it is that these maps do? This paper outlines an analytic for examining indigenous mapping projects, drawing upon two prominent instances - by the Maya of Belize and the Mayangna community of Awas Tingni in Nicaragua - where human rights lawsuits have been woven together with participatory mapping. In each case, map-making was intricately linked to the formulation of legal claims, resulting in a pair of much-celebrated maps and legal precedents regarding the recognition of indigenous land rights. We argue that these strategies do not reverse colonial social relations so much as they rework them. Notwithstanding the creativity expressed through these projects, they remain oriented by the spatial configuration of modern politics: territory and property rights. This spatial configuration both accounts for and limits the power of indigenous cartography. This impasse is not a contradiction that can be resolved; rather, it constitutes an aporia for which there is no easy or clear solution. Nonetheless, it must be confronted.
ISSN: 1474-4740 (print)
1477-0881 (online)
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1811/52137
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