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Thesis Details
TitleNegotiating the landscape : a comparative investigation of wayfinding, mapmaking and territoriality in selected hunter-gatherer societies
AuthorWylie, Joanna Kate
InstitutionUniversity of Otago
Date2004
AbstractAs human beings we are continually interacting with the landscape, and have been doing so throughout the entire course of our evolution. This thesis specifically investigates the way in which hunter-gatherers negotiate and interact with their landscapes, focusing on three patterns of behaviour: wayfinding, mapmaking and territoriality. An examination of the relevant international literature reveals that globally, hunter-gatherer groups both past and present share a number of similarities with regard to their wayfinding and mapmaking techniques, territorial behaviour. A case study of Maori interaction with the landscape of prehistoric and protohistoric Te Wai Pounamu [the South Island] provides further support for the central argument that hunter-gatherers collectively negotiate and interact with the landscape in distinctive ways. This is contrasted with the interaction of European explorers and travellers with the 19th century landscape of Te Wai Pounamu in Chapter 5. It is determined that hunter-gatherers use detailed cognitive or 'mental' maps to navigate their way through a range of landscape from dense forests to barren plains. These maps often consist of sequences of place names that represent trails. These cognitive maps are most commonly developed through direct interaction with the landscape, but can also be formed vicariously through ephemeral maps drawn with the purpose of communicating geographical knowledge. Prior to European contact, little importance seems to have been given to artefactual or 'permanent' maps within hunter-gatherer societies as the process of mapmaking was generally regarded as more significant than the actual product. Although the literature on hunter-gatherer territoriality is complex and in some cases conflicting, it is contended that among a number of hunter-gatherer groups, including prehistoric and protohistoric Maori in Te Wai Pounamu, interaction and negotiation with the landscape was/is not restricted to exclusive territories marked by rigidly defined boundaries. Among these groups, a specific method of territoriality known as 'social boundry defence' was/is employed. This involves controlling access to the social group inhabiting an area rather than access to the area itself, as with groups utilising the territorial method of 'perimeter defence'.
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