Colonialism "on the ground"

blog-borderworks-ross.jpgWe want to point you to an excellent Duke News feature on graduating senior Emma Ross's project with the BorderWork(s) Lab. A student in Prof. Philip Stern's "The Empire Maps Back" group independent study this past year, Ross described her work at the Center for Instructional Technology's recent Showcase:

Ross... sifted through the travelogues of Joseph Banks, James Cook and other explorers, creating databases of their interactions with local populations and charting how descriptions of their voyages made their way back to Europe and elsewhere. "Once I had the data categorized, I assigned latitude and longitude points to each entry, based on information given in the travel narratives," she said. The resulting maps made it possible to "recreate the vision of Tahiti that would have been in the minds of 18th century readers of these travelogues."

Ross used Google Sketchup to create models of a British fort and local structures on Tahiti, basing her images on descriptions and measurements she found in the travelogues. Recently she has been creating life-size 3D models of the structures to display inside DIVE, the 6-sided Duke Immersive Virtual Environment at the Pratt School of Engineering. The process has enabled her to "really understand the scale of the colonial experience 'on the ground' and see the spatial relationship of these structures to each other and to the surrounding Tahitian landscape." Her 3D visualizations may be used in future Duke classes.

Congratulations to Emma - and bravo BorderWork(s)! To see other impressive student projects that the Lab has been able to generate and support, in this its first year, please click here


Photo by Doug Hayes