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Spatial Mapping, January 30th

Dr. Earley-Spadoni’s January 30th presentation on her Infinite Armenias project to our class provided additional insight into her 2017 paper that called for increased interdisciplinary collaboration between the archaeological sciences, GIS experts, and the digital humanities. One particular area of interest in her paper (and one that I think will be useful for our project) is the ability for deep mapping to assign concurrent tags or titles to contested or controversial territories. She emphasizes that these contested areas “render simple geographic nomenclature a complicated and highly politicized enterprise” (p. 97). I would also agree, and also assert that “simple geographic nomenclature” is almost never the reality of mapping, as the selection of language, inclusion and data to any map or visualization is can be dependent on the ideologies of the creator and the overseeing agency (see Dork et al’s discussion of critical information visualization). 

By combining a traditional map with deep mapping strategies like narrative, images, and the above contested naming, users can begin to more fully contextualize the region in ways that promote critical engagement. For our St. Augustine project, we should make sure that are selecting and highlighting information mindfully, and incorporating personal narratives in conjunction to historical research might be a good way to begin. During our class trip to St. Augustine, several of the historians mentioned specific groups that might be otherwise overlooked within the traditional narrative of the cemetery, including the burial regiment (or contractors, depending on the source) that retrieved the bodies from the Dade Massacre who were very likely certainly slaves, and the presence of several graves of “Unknown Indians” who are not identified by conflict or tribe. Deep mapping might be a way to provide more information about these groups of burials and contextualize them within the cemetery in a way that takes into account the history of these groups within the American military narrative. Dr. Earley-Spadoni also discusses the ability of visualizations to make connections between geographic locations over time, and we may want to consider mining data about soldier movements before their deaths in the style of the University of Virgina’s VisualEyes The Spaces of Khacloe Drubling.

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