Ethnographic Approaches to Indigenous Mapping Seminar

WEDNESDAY, February 26, 2020 | 5:00 – 6:30 pm

Green College Coach House, 6201 Cecil Green Park Rd, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

Ethnographic Approaches to Indigenous Mapping

Brian Thom, University of Victoria, Department of Anthropology

Anthropologists working with indigenous communities have come a long way from the fixed, grey-scale map in their ethnography. Digital mapping technology have provided opportunities to frame multiple layers, scales, and perspectives which provide visual, textual, media-rich polyphony. Ethnographic maps no longer simply delineate territory or label significant local landmarks, but have the potential to entangle multiple audiences (community members, other anthropologists, the public, government, industry) into indigenous worlds, weaving multiple agendas, priorities and ways of seeing and knowing the world.  This talk will follow the distinct and sometimes divergent melodies of recent maps produced in collaboration with Indigenous communities, revealing their potential (and pitfalls) for ethnographic evocation.

Brian Thom is an associate professor in the anthropology department at the University of Victoria. As an anthropologist, he is keenly interested in the idea of ‘place’ and the ways people and communities are dynamically and powerfully connected to the places they encounter in their lives. He has worked in Coast Salish communities on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands over the past 25 years, as well as recently collaborative research with an Itelmen indigenous community in Kamchatka (Russia). In 2010, Dr. Thom founded UVic’s Ethnographic Mapping Lab (, a place for graduate students and faculty researchers to collaborate with Indigenous communities on projects that support Indigenous land rights, resource management, inter-generational knowledge sharing, and public education.