This blog is mostly professional, but may have some personal notes in it as well, as it affects my professional activities.

Its namesake stems from my PhD research into regional identities in the late eighteenth century in what is now southern Bavaria.

I blog about issues related to information literacy, access to library resources, the environment, and the Historical Geography of Rupertsland.

Some sources regarding his life and work.

Fischer, H. (1988) ‘Schön und vortrefflich’: die ‘Charte von Schwaben’: Ein kartengeschichtlich bedeutsames Werk zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts, in: Beiträge zur Landeskunde: Regelmässige Beilage zum Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Juni 1988, 3:1–8.

Fischer, H. (1988) Die ‘Charte von Schwaben’ im Massstab 1:86,400: Erläuterungen, in the series: Reproduktionen alter Karten, Stuttgart.

Fischer, H. (1993) Die ‘Charte von Schwaben’ 1:86,400, Cartographica Helvetica 7 (1993) 1–10.Gradmann, J.J. (1802) Das gelehrte Schwaben: oder Lexicon der jetzt lebenden schwäbischen Schriftsteller, Ravensburg.

Günther, Siegmund (1922) Eine Kartierung Oberschwabens um die Wende des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts, Sitzungsberichte der mathematisch-physikalischen Klasse der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu München, Jahrgang 1921 315–330, 317n.

Wolfart, P. (2008) Mapping the Early Modern State: the Work of Ignaz Ambros Amman, 1782–1812, Journal of Historical Geography, 34(1):1-23.

"Ignaz Ambros von Amman" in Wikipedia [short entry but cites Wolfart (2008).]

Indigenous Studies Portal News

Thursday, November 12, 2015

 Thoughts on recent commentary of anti-racism conference in Winnipeg

Recently posted on my Linked In Site.

These are very rough thoughts on a recent anti-racism conference held in Winnipeg.  How can we make discussions of any large scale social policy more accessible?

Reading recent analysis of anti-racism conference, and especially its alleged failings has got me thinking that in this (and realistically many other discussions) around larger social issues (poverty, missing and murdered aboriginal women, racism, inequality) we may not only be asking the wrong questions, but we might be asking them in the wrong way, and of the wrong people. One commentator at a recent conference on Racism asked why the racists (who rarely acknowledge that they are racists) weren't at the conference, and another noted that the event turned into a series of lectures (presumably academic if not in nature, than in presentation) at the exclusion of many segments of the population. That medium, no matter how wide you extend the invitation to attend, is arguably a restrictive medium; the lecture format, though widely disseminated throughout the world, is a strangely contemporary (and possible Western European) form of discussion with roots, some where in the scholastic traditions of the post-reformation / counter-reformation era (and place), that while perhaps slightly less elitist than the earlier notion of actually memorising lectures verbatim, remains truly accessible to only a handful of people who had gone through a current university level education system. I am, to that end reminded of several ground breaking thoughts.

1) Ask the children. Too many years ago to count, in an urban planning publication, I read a piece about a revolutionary playground design. The design itself wasn't revolutionary, but in this case the main stakeholder that was pressed on what a good design should be was the children that would be using it. And using techniques that were honed in the court systems so as not to be leading questions, some interesting responses were gathered. So too, using systems other than lectures, we could illicit some invaluable discussions about a variety of issues. The challenge (and this is where I run out of suggestions) is how to switch up the medium

2) Identified a few generations ago now, but remaining relevant is the idea the 'medium is [indeed] the message'. Putting a group of people in suits and expecting them to come up with persuasive solutions that will speak to other stakeholders in this discussion is missing a larger segment of those stakeholders

3) Some 30 or 40 years ago now, an enquiry into Aboriginal affairs in Australia (I don't recall the details) broke with tradition, and rather than holding countless hearings in sterile chambers in the colonial centres, the enquirers (in this case 1 lone supreme court judge) went into the communities armed with a tape recorder, and tried to meet the people locally in their favoured story telling medium.

and 4) finally through all of this, I'm reminded of a satire of the entire conference process written in the immediate aftermath of the 2nd world war by Erich Kästner (originally entitled Die Konferenz der Thiere) (it appeared in 1949) in which some animals, frustrated at various global summits that the humans of the world had held through which they tried to solve the world's problems which had failed, sought to take on the problems themselves. One solution (an abject failure) was for the animals to have their own conference. You'd have to read the book to learn how they did succeed in the end.

So to sum, let's consider other ways to gather other voices in our larger discussions of greater social problems.
I had posted this a few weeks back on my linked in page. Here for posterity

As society becomes more complex, we begin to see a clear division of labour. So we all have our tasks to do, but we don't perform them in isolation. In order for us to work collectively together, we not only need to know what tasks are out there, that need to be done, or are being done (Information), but also who does what (Referral). With a strong Information and Referral system you can build networks, increase the capacity of your own agency, and share the knowledge of what can make this community better. This creates even more information that can be shared.
I challenge somebody with a better graphic sense than myself to put this into a graphic representation. I'm visualising a wheel, but having a hard time articulating it. Any takers?
In the meantime, don't be shy about sharing your programme or agency with a local I and R provider.  This is the first step to creating that network.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What do Manitoba and the Crimea have in common?

Several events / news stories over the last few months have reignited my thoughts about regional / community identity that I thought I'd left behind when I defended my thesis, getting on to almost 20 years ago.  The first, was the events in Crimea.  The second, closer to home, a question of who should be on the Manitoba Walk of Fame, therefore, who is a Manitoban.

I have to confess I don't of course have the answers, but I want to share my own thoughts.  Crimea is an issue that no sane commentator, let alone politician should touch with a barge poll, especially not a nuclear tipped one.  Academically a very interesting question, is it Russia? Is it Ukraine? Is it an independent Tartar territory, and if so, do the Tartars even have a modernist sense of territorial contiguity, or do they subscribe to some pre-(or post) modern sense of territoriality, where they carry their identity with them, wherever they travel? I have no idea, of course, but I'd be willing to bet that none of the current occupiers or contending occupiers have given this option much thought.  In reality, of course, it is much more than academic. Lives have been lost, and many more before the issue is resolved, and I want to be very clear, that I'm not taking a stance here at all. I only hope somebody figures it out soon.

But the notion of what makes someone belong to a region does raise some questions regarding my second question, who should be on the Manitoba Walk of Fame? Who is sufficiently Manitoban.  On the possible list of contenders are several people who haven't lived in Manitoba or contributed significantly to its cultural wellbeing. I'm thinking of Neil Young who left, as I understand it as a teenager, and only makes sporadic visits, but also luminaries like Marshall McLuhan, who while he certainly may have developed his ideas here, also didn't leave a unique stamp on Manitoba.  Again I'm stumped, but I have some idea, that questions of identity / belonging rest somewhere with the actions of the individuals, and not with the territory itself.  Crimea, like Manitoba is a bounded piece of geography that has had human activity enacted upon it, and that activity, in turn has coloured subsequent activity. It has become an organic being that exists because of the activity it hosts, and the debate about who is, or who isn't a member of the club, whether carried out through military occupation, or much more harmless ponderings of who should be in the Walk of Fame, is but one contributing factor to a set of questions that cannot be resolved easily.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Political Geography should be viewed with respect

Just a brief posting, very raw thoughts, but came across recent study that tried to compare administrative differences across Canada, but failed to articulate, that there are vast differences in the political / administrative landscape of Canada. In short, they do things differently in Quebec, than they do in Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario, and even smaller regions within the provinces.

But many studies fail to acknowledge this, perhaps for fear of reprisals. Political Geography has become very tainted since events of the 1st and 2nd World War, and probably rightly so.  But it can't be ignored. Quebec, like Scotland in the UK has a very different legal structure, and is not directly related to the fact that they speak a different language. They follow different legal code (common law vs Napoleonic/codified).  This has wide and important implications that are often ignored in many comparative studies. I wonder if it is ignored out of ignorance, or out of fear of treading too close to the notion of a 'distinct society'.

Jus Sanguinis for Cows? Are you what you eat?

Follow this link for context, but main point of interest is misguided use of ascription of identity, in this case cattle. Let me see if I understand this correctly.  Because animal is born in Canada it will forever be Canadian, even though it may be plugged full of same hormones, as its American counterparts, as it is raised in the United States.

So I am born in America, but plugged full of Canadian Ideology, cultural markers, but I will for ever be labled American? A wider and more peculiar application of jus sanguinis.  The more I think about this, this probably didn't make sense in a world where, some what naively it was assumed people (and cattle didn't travel), and it certainly doesn't make sense in the contemporary world of global travel.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Don't think I've had a chance to mention publication of new book that comments on Metis Identity, and serves to some degree as an update to volume produced by Brown and Peterson Being and Becoming Metis in North America, back in 1985.

Contours of a PeopleMetis Family, Mobility, and History, edited by Nicole St. Onge, Carolyn Podruchny and Brenda Macdougall. I've got a chapter in this one, Against spatialized ethnicity.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I'm beginning to wonder if we're entering (or indeed have entered) an aspatial arrangement, and if technology is leading the charge.  A few recent examples have struck me and got me wondering if it was technology that caused earlier shifts in the late eighteenth century that had western european society moving from a non-spatial (or better yet aspatial) world to a more fully spatialised one, a world where ideally there was full congruence between the Nation and the State.

In the current context, I'm struck by communications technology in particular that no longer cares where we are to assign identity (in this case telephone numbers).  Although somehow they manage to charge for long distance calls. Consider for example MTS's recent approach to a lack of numbers. They've chosen to add three digit codes to all new phone numbers, but where in the past this was known as an 'area code' and truly did refer to an area, the new system presumably because of the mobility of the telephones, simply adds these numbers to any new line.  There is no longer a good way to determine where physically a phone number  is located. If this is the case, what was the technology in the eighteenth century that provided the push into a spatial world. Was it, as I had surmised many years ago, the advent of surveying and cartographic techniques, pioneered by Ambros von Amman, David Thompson, and the rest?