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Islands at the boundary of the world : changing representations of Haida Gwaii, 1774-2001 Martineau, Joel Barry

Abstract

This dissertation investigates the ways visitors to Haida Gwaii (sometimes called the Queen Charlotte Islands) have written about the islands. I argue that accounts by visitors to Haida Gwaii fashion the object that they seek to represent. In short, visitors' stories do not unproblematically reflect the islands but determine how Haida Gwaii is perceived. These perceptions in turn affect the actions of visitors, residents and governments. I contribute to that representational process, striving to show the material consequences of language and the ways discourses shape Haida Gwaii. The dissertation consists of three sections. "Early visitors" focuses on the last quarter of the eighteenth century, studying the earliest documented visits by Euro-American mariners and fur traders. "Modern visitors" concentrates on the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, when some visitors were busy imposing colonial forms of government and social organization, while others were resisting these projects. "Recent visitors" concentrates on the final quarter of the twentieth century, examining the campaign to save a portion of the archipelago from clearcutting and efforts to develop alternatives to resource-extractive economic practices. By examining three case studies for each period, I argue that the ways visitors imagine the islands have been transformed in each of these periods.

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