Academic journal article The Canadian Geographer

Historical Geographies of Colonialism: Introduction

Academic journal article The Canadian Geographer

Historical Geographies of Colonialism: Introduction

Article excerpt

Positioned as it is at the intersection between two disciplines, historical geography is a field whose boundaries have expanded and been reshaped over the years. If meticulous reconstruction of past geographies has long been a unifying approach, the question of 'what' geographies should or can be recovered--and through what means--continues to challenge the practices historical geographers adopt as their own. Such a question is even more central for researchers interested in geographies of the colonial past, especially as they relate to indigenous people. Archival traces of the marginalized are rare, yet the production of Canada's archive as a partial repertory is part and parcel of the construction of Canada itself as a nation. To recover a fuller picture, historical geographers must rethink their methods. In doing so, they contribute to enriching and revivifying the field of historical geography.

This special issue aims to present some of the work that is currently being done in this area. It brings together new work by emerging and established historical geographers in Canada as well as a commentary by Serge Courville, recently retired from Laval University. By presenting the breadth of scholarship in the area, we hope to encourage further dialogue and research around North America's colonial geographies. Given the strength of indigenous people's activism for the recognition of their contribution to Canada's history, we think this is a particularly opportune time for historical geographers to reflect on the part they play in this ongoing project.

The papers included here were presented first at the Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) annual meeting in London, Ontario in June 2005 as part of a double-session and round table discussion entitled 'Historical Geography: Emerging Trends and Continuities'. (1) One significant result of that lively meeting was the creation of the Historical Geography Study Group, currently chaired by Andrew Baldwin of Brock University. Another was the recognition of a strong colonial theme running through several of the papers that focused much of the ensuing debate and discussion. As sounding points of this continuing conversation, the authors of the following articles follow important, (and unsettling) lines of research. …

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