The archive of place : environment and the contested past of a North American plateau
Author(s)Turkel, William Joseph, 1967-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society.
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This is a study of the role that the interpretation of material evidence plays in historical consciousness and social memory. It consists of three case studies from the Chilcotin Plateau in the west-central part of present-day British Columbia. In each, a conflict in the mid-1990s over the nature of the past and its relevance for the present allowed underlying stories to emerge. As different groups struggled to control the fate of the region and its resources, they invoked very different understandings of its past, understandings based in part on the material traces that they found there. Taken together, the case studies illustrate the fact that there is an extensive division of interpretive labor when it comes to the material evidence of the past. Like other kinds of labor, this interpretation takes part in a political economy. Studies of material evidence are done to further the interests of individuals or groups, are valued and exchanged with one another, and are important in the delineation of property rights, the enforcement of laws and the justification of ideologies. What emerges is not an authoritative or univocal environmental history of a place, but rather a contest to find a past which will be usable in the present and future. The constant interpretation of material evidence allows people to situate themselves with respect to place, time and other people.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society, 2004.Includes bibliographical references (p. 310-337).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Program in Science, Technology and Society.