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“Mapping Always Redraws the Map”, and Other Lessons Learned from Community-based Heritage Mapping in Levuka, Fiji and Santa Rosa, California

Date and Time: 
Thursday, April 12, 2018. 05:00 PM - 06:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Archaeology Center
Workshop: 
Archaeology--Political Landscapes: Past and Present
Meeting Description: 

Community-based mapping projects, often supported by sophisticated GIS technologies, have become a standard part of the methodological toolkit across a wide array of social sciences, including archaeology. But asking people to tie heritage to place, and vice versa, has real consequences for the ways in which those people perceive both their heritage, and the places they are defining as “on” (or “off”) the map. This is particularly true in community contexts that are highly politically charged, and where meanings of both place and the past are contested. This presentation reflects on 17 years of work in two different projects, a World Heritage List nomination for the Pacific colonial capital of Levuka, Fiji and a citywide community heritage mapping project for the Santa Rosa Sesquicentennial, to examine these consequences and their implications for using community mapping to document shared heritage at that scale.

Margaret Purser is a professor of anthropology at Sonoma State University. She currently serves as chair of the SSU Anthropology Department, and teaches courses in archaeology, cultural landscape studies, and contemporary heritage management studies.  She has worked on community-based research projects on Nevada ranching, Sierra Nevada goldmining, maritime landscapes in the Sacramento River Delta, and coffee and sugar plantations in Pacific coastal Guatemala. From 2000 to 2010 she worked on the nomination of the 19th century Pacific port town of Levuka, Fiji, to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Her current project is called the “Santa Rosa Neighborhood Heritage Mapping Project”, which is creating an online interactive map of that city’s many diverse and vibrant neighborhoods designed to help celebrate the sesquicentennial celebrations in 2018.