Mathew Lippincott’s blog on design and DIY aerospace
April 7th, 2011

Mapping Colonialism, Talk on 4/9

This saturday I’ll be dipping in briefly to the Counter-Counter Insurgency Convergence, at Reed College.  Given my current work with community mapping, I’m very interested to see what Geoffrey Boyce has to say in this seminar:

MAPPING COLONIALISM IN THE 21ST CENTURY: THE CASE OF “MEXICA INDIGENA”
Geoffrey Boyce, School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona
2:35-5:05 PM
Eliot 103
In 2005 a group of geographers from the University of Kansas began a “collaborative mapping” project with indigenous peoples in the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca, Mexico. Dubbed “Mexica Indigena”, this project was pitched to the participating communities as a means of empowering them to defend traditional land claims and practices through the generation of geo-spatial data. Yet, unbeknownst at the time to these communities, Mexica Indigena was in fact a program sponsored by the Foreign Military Studies Office at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas – the pilot for a research program overseen by the American Geographical Society meant to augment U.S. intelligence and counter-insurgency efforts, now operating in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Lesser Antilles and Colombia. This paper explores the implications of Mexica Indigena for a number of issues of contemporary concern, including military / academic collaboration, politics, ethics, and the colonial legacy of disciplines such as geography and anthropology. Specifically, the controversial aftermath of Mexica Indigena exposes the deficiency of institutional protections against predatory research practices when the latter operate under the umbrella of U.S. “national security” interests – challenging common assumptions within the academy concerning the nature and beneficence of geo-spatial or ethnographic research, the position of Institutional Review Boards, and the value of academic research in general, in light of the colonial present.

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