Article ID: CBB956823684

Counting and Counter-mapping: Contests over the Making of a Mining District in Bristol Bay, Alaska (2017)


Over the past decade, the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska has been embroiled in a controversy over prospective mineral development in the headwaters of one of the world’s most vibrant salmon fisheries. Following the release of a state land-use plan whose maps appeared to promote large-scale mining in the region, a coalition of actors pursued a counter-mapping project, which drew on existing state data to restore priority to subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering activities. In the contest over mining, maps and the data used to comprise them were created and contested by an array of actors, including indigenous groups, environmental organizations, and state and federal governments. Ethnographic research demonstrates how competing narratives took shape through vying efforts to empty out and fill up maps with representations of resources in the form of numbers based on scientific measurement. As quantification becomes the means through which environmental claims are staked, it reinforces the authority of scientific expertise at the same time it foregrounds other ways of knowing and establishing authority. The pursuit of numbers motivated various projects of adding together in Bristol Bay, including coalition building, which made space for alternative visions of and for the territory. The power of counter-mapping may lie less in the relationships it represents, then, and more in terms of those it helps create, insofar as it contributes to assembling new publics in opposition to resource-extractive designs.

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Article Kristoffer Whitney; Melanie A. Kiechle (2017) Introduction: Counting on Nature. Science as Culture (pp. 1-10). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Lanzarotta, Tess
Morse, Kathryn Taylor
Cronon, William
Rawson, Timothy
Reardon, Jenny
Nielsen, Martin Reinhardt
Social Studies of Science
Spontaneous Generations
Science as Culture
Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Scientia Canadensis: Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
University of Alaska Press
University of Washington Press
University of Calgary Press
Yale University
University of Oklahoma Press
University Press of Kansas
Indigenous peoples; indigeneity
Science and society
Environmental protection
Authority of science
Mines and mining
Land use
Foucault, Michel
Evans, Robert
Collins, Harry M.
Feyerabend, Paul K.
Kuhn, Thomas S.
Rawls, John
Alaska (U.S.)
United States
Hawaii (U.S.)
Tanzania (Tanganyika, Zanzibar)
Arctic regions
21st century
20th century
20th century, late
19th century
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (United States)

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