A workshop investigating the role indigenous people played in the history of exploration, compiled by Joy Slappnig.
In this 30 minute workshop, students will learn about the role Indigenous people played in the history of exploration. Focussing on materials from the RGS-IBG Collections, which were also used in the 2009 exhibition Hidden histories of exploration, this workshop will investigate how colonial archives highlight certain histories while obscuring others. There are two different versions of this workshop, one for students with limited archival experience, and one for students with moderate archival experience.
European explorers relied heavily on the physical labour and knowledge of Indigenous people, including in their roles as porters, pilots, guides and translators, for the success of their expeditions. Yet, this Indigenous contribution was only rarely acknowledged in published exploration accounts. In the last two decades, numerous projects have attempted to uncover the 'hidden histories' of Indigenous people using the materials in colonial archives and collections.
Visit the online exhibition
This workshop is intended for students who might have little or no experience working with historical archives or collections. The students will study panels created as part of the Hidden Histories travelling exhibition, which include texts and photographs, and work with question sheets (available for download below).
In preparation for the workshop, the students may want to look at the exhibition catalogue (see below), which introduces the themes of the workshop. Alternatively, the workshop leader can give a brief introduction to the exhibition (Background information, see below) (5-7 minutes). The students can then split up into smaller groups and study the panels with their question sheets (15 minutes). The session ends with a class discussion of the questions (10 minutes).
Exhibition catalogue Hidden Histories of Exploration (2009) (.pdf)
Introductory information about the Hidden Histories exhibition (.pdf)
Key texts about the workshop themes (.pdf)
Question sheet (.pdf)
This workshop takes place at the RGS-IBG in London and is directed at students who have some knowledge of historical archives and collection and who might consider using them for their dissertations. The workshop is structured around a display of objects and images that were part of the Hidden Histories exhibition.
In preparation for the workshop, the students may want to look at the exhibition catalogue (see below), which introduces the themes of the workshop. Additional information about the items on display is also available to download below; the workshop leader may decide whether to distribute this to students or present it in form of a short introduction. The question sheets can either be handed out to students for discussion amongst smaller groups, or the workshop leader may use them to lead a discussion with the whole group.
List of materials for display in the RGS-IBG Foyle Reading Room (.pdf)
Information about the materials on display (.pdf)
Key texts about workshop themes (.pdf)
David Matless (University of Nottingham) discusses ways of encouraging curiosity and further independent research/study in historical geography.
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Part of the Historical Geography Research Group (HGRG) series of teaching and learning resources.
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