The Archive of Place
Unearthing the Pasts of the Chilcotin Plateau
The Archive of Place weaves together a series of narratives about environmental history in a particular location – British Columbia’s Chilcotin Plateau. In the mid-1990s, the Chilcotin was at the centre of three territorial conflicts. Opposing groups, in their struggle to control the fate of the region and its resources, invoked different understandings of its past – and different types of evidence – to justify their actions. These controversies serve as case studies, as William Turkel examines how people interpret material traces to reconstruct past events, the conditions under which such interpretation takes place, and the role that this interpretation plays in historical consciousness and social memory. It is a wide-ranging and original study that extends the span of conventional historical research.
In this unorthodox and intriguing book, William Turkel uses the Chilcotin Plateau, an arid and sparsely settled region of west-central British Columbia, to ask a series of questions about how we acquire and use knowledge of the past.
. .. This is an engaging and rewarding book. Like much recent work in British Columbia history, it writes First Nations people into the general history of the province, a hugely important project for North American histroy more generally.
An amalgam of the material and the representational, the natural and the human, place allows Turkel to move some way toward transcending the old human-environment dichotomy that bedevils the writing of environmental history.- James Murton