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Indigenous Territoriality and Colonial Cartographic Violence

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group
Organizers: Mabel Gergan, Tyler McCreary, Elspeth Iralu
Chairs: Mabel Gergan


The relationship between colonialism and cartography has long been of interest to critical geographers. Critical histories of geographic thought have cataloged the intimate relationship between the extension of empire and the construction of cartographic knowledge (Crampton 2010; Zou and Kumar 2011). These colonial cartographic legacies persist in contemporary forms of nation-building that continually undermine Indigenous territoriality across settler and post-colonial contexts. In this panel we are interested in theorizing cartographic technologies and their attendant legal-constitutional structures that legitimize programs of dispossession and accumulation against Indigenous communities, and as a corollary, the technologies and structures that allow Indigenous groups to enact forms of Indigenous resistance, self-determination, and liberation, as well as mediate between competing colonial and Indigenous claims. Broadly, we are interested in the work of state entities, courts, corporations, and non-governmental agencies, as well as Indigenous elected officials, social movements, militant groups, and community organizations, and how they use counter-cartographic technologies and knowledges in different colonial, anti-colonial, and decolonial projects. As organizers, our research is based across multiple sites, and we are particularly interested in geographic contexts where Indigeneity, settler-Colonialism, and coloniality might be theoretically contested, such as the South Asian and Asian context (Osuri 2017; Anand 2012). We are interested in (but not limited to) papers exploring the following topics:

- How geospatial records and legal-constitutional structures order claims to land and citizenship.
- Legal-constitutional structures threatening Indigenous territoriality
- Indigenous actors challenging legal-constitutional structures through judicial and extrajudicial means.
- How geospatial technologies such as GIS, remote-sensing, shape the articulation and circulation of competing geographic imaginaries.


Anand, D. 2012. China and India: Postcolonial informal empires in the emerging global order. Rethinking Marxism, 24(1), 68-86.
Crampton, J. W. 2010. Cartographic calculations of territory. Progress in Human Geography. 35(1) 92–103
Osuri, G. 2017. Imperialism, colonialism and sovereignty in the (post) colony: India and Kashmir. Third world quarterly, 38(11), 2428-2443.
Zou, D. V., & Kumar, M. S. 2011. Mapping a colonial borderland: objectifying the geo-body of India's northeast. The Journal of Asian Studies,70(01), 141-170.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Elspeth Iralu*, University of New Mexico, Bird’s eye view: Aerial surveillance and producing the Indigenous subject in India 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Tyler McCreary*, Florida State University, David Hugill, Carleton University, Indigenous Mobilizations and the Demand for Planetary Difference 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Lara Lookabaugh*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Mujeres Tejedoras del Conocimiento: Representing Claims to History, Territory, and the Future with a Mam Maya Women’s Collective 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Fernando Galeana*, Cornell University, The Life of a Map: Counter-Mapping and Indigenous Territoriality in the Honduran Moskitia 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Mabel Gergan*, Florida State University, Indigenous Territoriality and Asymmetric Federalism in India’s Himalayan Borderlands 15 12:00 AM

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