GIS Tombs Mapping, 15 May 2015

Epigraphs Carved into the Land: Maps of Funerary Practices as Traces of Collective Mental Representations on Taiwan and Penghu

Oliver Streiter
National University of Kaohsiung

For 8 years we are digitizing tombs on Taiwan and Penghu: 1,000 days of fieldwork, 200,000 photos, 600 graveyards, 50.000 tombs. And while the data collection grows and the equipment, the techniques and the data schemes are getting more and more sophisticated, we still struggle with elementary questions: What is it that we digitize, and why do we all this and how can data be best represented? Are tombs part of the history or part of the stories of these islands? Can these histories and stories be distinguished and what is the scientific interest in this endeavor?

A tentative answer we come up with in this talk is that tombs represent stories that have been developed in historic contexts. The relevance of these stories lies in their psychosocial nature: Inscribed in the landscape, they form mental representations in those who populate these landscapes.

Lured into a new positivism, which seems justifiable through a new, digital, empiricism, we adopt a critical, Popperian approach: Trying to find fold lines in these histories, in space and time, or patterns in the development of these stories that do not correspond to the historic truth claimed by these stories, the problem of representing tombs on maps becomes purposeful and tractable and allows to identify the agents behind the stories and their interest at stake.

APSTI Workshop GIS Tombs Mapping 20150515

Presentation file

Time: 09:00-11:00

Location: GIS Lab, 270610 General Building of Colleges, National Chengchi University