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Accepted Paper:

Merging Archives and Mapping Metis Geographies: Can machine learning and participatory research coexist?  

Authors:

Mike Evans (UBC Okanagan)
Jon Corbett (University of British Columbia Okanagan)
Ramon Lawrence (University of British Columbia)
Emilie Pigeon (University of Ottawa)
Nicholas Blackwell (UBC Okanagan)
Marcelle Gareau (UBC Okanagan)

Paper short abstract:

The Digital Archives Database Project created tools to preserve, serve, and render accessible information relevant to Metis ethno-history. Merging databases and linking families across varied and disparate archives is a core computational task that challenges the participatory values of the project.

Paper long abstract:

The 1982 Canadian Constitution recognised, but did not specifically define, Metis as one of three Indigenous Peoples of Canada; research into the sociological and geographical characteristics of Metis communities parallels intense legal and political activity by Metis leaders and activists. Linked to the vast trade networks of northcentral North America, and characterised by both voluntary and forced mobility, the shape of Metis geographies stand somewhat apart from other Indigenous peoples. Much ethno-historical work has focussed on how various archival sources (sacramental registries, historical petitions, fur trade records, and other materials) can elucidate the very complex relations of families and communities over the last two centuries, and these vast geographical spaces. Over the last several years the Digital Archives Database Project (DADP) has developed an increasingly sophisticated set of digital tools to preserve, serve, and render more easily accessible a wide and varied collection of digitized databases. Developing and implementing the mechanisms for effectively linking individuals and families across varied and often disparate archival material, merging databases accurately, and then rendering representations of these relations in historic and geographic terms is both computationally and conceptually challenging. To varied degrees the databases brought together by DADP were initially developed with participatory values and relationships at their core; mounting (and now merging) these databases through the DADP continues to be textured by participatory values. As the computing/research/data mobilization problems become increasingly complex, new tensions emerge. We explore these issues, and our attempts to engage in effective participatory relationships despite such challenges.

Panel MA02
Scaling the map: Contemporary theoretical and methological innovations in participatory cartographic production