Consilience and Cartography

Integrative theories and narratives

require protocols for the aggregation of data of widely varying forms, supplied by multiple disciplines operating across a range of temporal and spatial scales (the recent D-Place initiative is a good example).

A major impediment to integration is that these theories and narratives are often expressed in vocabularies idiosyncratic to particular disciplines. Ethnographies, for example, are not typically written in ways that optimise their data for comparative purposes. Cartography is employed here as a rubric for the range of methodologies that need to be identified and further developed in order to integrate the findings of our core disciplines, and then represent them within unified frameworks or platforms. These platforms might take the form of large comparative databases that strive for parallel coverage across a wide range of domains, or of novel forms of mapping or visualization (e.g. language maps of New Guinea are not currently paralleled by the mapping of cultural traits, such as kinship types, political organisation, or agricultural methods). ANU is fortunate to have a world-class cartography unit, which will work closely with us to develop innovative approaches to integrating and representing data across space and time.

Research theme lead: Chris Ballard

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