‘Texted pasts’—the sources of colonial land surveying
This article considers how the diaries and field books of colonial land surveyors provides historians of colonisation with a valuable repository of information. It is argued that these largely marginalised archival sources are significant for two reasons. First, while they contain a good deal of detail regarding the practice of land surveying—measurements, sketches and brief maps—these texts also contain rich botanical and ethnological information as well as personal reflections on the processes of land transformation and settlement. Second, as these texts were constructed ‘in transit’, they present to the historian important questions of context, authority and self-censorship.
Professor Giselle Byrnes is Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Law, Education, Business and Arts at Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory AUSTRALIA
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