Friday, April 15, 2016

Victoria University and National Library offer new maps of human knowledge

A series of free public talks promoted by two iconic Wellington institutions will ask new questions about how to use maps in innovative ways. 

Victoria University of Wellington and the National Library are partnering for the second year in a row to deliver a series of thought-provoking talks. This year the focus is on how mapping can be applied to the study of people, geography, the weather, and even literary works.

Victoria University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Professor Frazer Allan says the event demonstrates the value of the partnership between Victoria and the National Library.

“By collaborating with the National Library we are able to share the expertise of our academics with a wider audience and encourage debate on some of the big questions facing New Zealand. Our location in Wellington, the capital city, keeps us close to agencies like the National Library and provides a strong foundation for Victoria’s programme of civic engagement.”

National Librarian Bill Macnaught says both organisations are strongly committed to sharing knowledge about contemporary issues of importance, and to working together to engage and inspire researchers, writers and others.

“Bringing our expertise together makes for a powerful examination of ideas, movements, and technological changes that affect the place we live in. The talks engage the wider issues of what mapping means in practice, how it has changed dramatically with the introduction of digital tools, and how social, demographic and geographic changes can be tracked and understood with maps.”

The first talk by Victoria academics is on Thursday 21 April and examines the very topical issue of forced refugee movements in Europe, Asia and the Pacific. These movements cross borders and in some cases change the map.

Victoria Political Science and International Relations senior lecturer Dr Kate McMillan will use a series of interactive maps to look at the drivers of forced migration in the Asia-Pacific region in the 21st century.

She will be joined by History senior lecturer Dr Simone Gigliotti who will examine institutional approaches to mapping the displacement of refugees in 1945 to 1946, and 2015 to 2016. She poses the question: “To what extent can maps, with their humanitarian, mobile and visual geographical stories, inspire empathy and political interventions across time and place?”

This year’s theme is related to the major exhibition at the National Library, Unfolding the Map, which explores the history and the future of cartography in New Zealand.

Other issues being examined by Victoria staff in the series are: the future of maps; weather maps and how to find a storm; literary cartography—the landscapes that authors create; the growing field of digital humanities and the ways histories are constructed; making sense of spatial data; the use of mapping to protect species such as in marine reserves; and the everyday use of digital maps and global positioning systems by social networks.

What: Mapping Forced Migration; and Humanity on the Move
Who: Kate McMillan and Simone Gigliotti
Thursday 21 April, 5.30pm-6.45pm
National Library, Molesworth Street, Wellington

Other talks during May:

5 May
The Changing Face of Aotearoa
Kevin Norton, Senior lecturer physical geography

11 May
The Future of Maps
Aaron Jordan, Topography Group Manager at Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

17 May
How to Find a Storm: Maps of the Weather
Professor James Renwick and Erick Brenstrum.

26 May
Telling new stories with old maps
Dr Sydney Shep, Wai-te-Ata Press

Future talks will be promoted on the National Library website

For more information contact Mike Smith, Department of Internal Affairs, on 027 807 6741 or

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