Blog Post

Geolocating Identity: A Reconciliation Project

Geolocating Identity: A Reconciliation Project



The Australian Barometer (2010) notes that the general public’s attitude towards indigenous communities is influenced by secondary sources like the media, rather than personal experience. Many of the images of reconciliation promote unity between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, but at the cost of assimilating the indigenous subject within “White” society’s perceptions.  Peter Rigby (1996) writes, “anthropologists rightly pride themselves on their ability to analyze and understand mythological symbolic systems, yet they seldom address those associated with the provenance of their own discipline and the political economy and culture of its own gestation and development.” (p 3). There is a need for a reexamination of the way “privileged” actors - in this case “white” Australian politics, academics and urban indigenous Australians - represent and mediate Aboriginality. The next step for Reconciliation Australia will be the most difficult; to break away from the confining non-indigenous framework, which defines the Australian reconciliation agenda as a cultural revival project. By turning away from this framework, international, and national conceptions of Australian Reconciliation will no longer be seen as an issue of preserving indigenous authenticity, but as an ongoing global effort for basic human rights.

To begin to tackle this issue, I created a web project called, Geolocating Reconciliation. This user-driven Google Maps mashup enable visitors to post comments, photos, and videos about indigenous issues based on their geolocation, the real-world geographic location of the visitor. The homepage will ask their user to use their "Current Location" and load the satellite version of googlemaps with a photoshopped collage overlay of Australian Images generated from Google Search.

The posts on the map explore the media politics and visualization of indigenous reconciliation across borders, space, and technology. This project provides aHumanities 2.0 framework, one that appropriates a diversity of responses and calls for an ethics of reconciliation that only preserves indigenous culture, but encourages reconciliation literacy, the ability to understand where and how images of identity are constructed and reproduced.

Geolocating Reconciliation maps and archives the way in which the public interpret textual and audiovisual representations of indigenous people on the internet. The project pursues new modes of critiquing online identity and produces multi-layered impressions about how the media and online identities play a key role in determining the theoretical (albeit geographic) boundaries of Australia’s Reconciliation project. This project hope to create a diverse space where people from all over the globe can contemplate and comment on the effect images have on national identity. As the individual and national boundaries of identity are becoming more and more blurry it is becomes ever more important comment and reflect on these changes.

Tech Help Please! If you are good at Javascript and have experience with GoogleMaps mashup, I am still figuring out how to create a timestamp inside the information window on the site. Let me know if you any and suggestions or feedback! Thanks.


Further Reading:

Allen, C. (2002) Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts. Durham, Duke University Press.

Dodson, M. (2003). The end in the beginning: re(de)finding aboriginality. In M. Grossman (Ed.), Blacklines: contemporary critical writing by indigenous Australians. (pp. 25-43). Carlton: Melbourne University Press.

Langton, M. Aboriginal art & film: the politics of representation. In M. Grossman (Ed.), Blacklines: contemporary critical writing by indigenous Australians. (pp. 109-126).Carlton: Melbourne University Press.

Price, B. (Speaker). (2011). Bess Price: Welcome to My World (Web Recording). Melbourne, Australia: ABC Background Briefing.

Reconciliation Australia. 2011. Australian Reconciliation Barometer: Key Findings Fact Sheet. Reconciliation Australia: Author. Retrieved from

Reconciliation Australia. 2011. National Reconciliation Week 2011 – Let’s Talk Recognition, Reconciliation Australia: Author. Retrieved from

Rigby, R. (1996). African images. Oxford, Berg.



Hi Kelsey,

This sounds like a really cool project. I'm bad at javascript, otherwise i'd be happy to help.

My research is kinda similar with your project, where i look at expressions of national identity/nationalism in digital games and mobile technologies. Would love to share thoughts!


Hi Iskander, 

That's awesome, my colleague at Georgetown in doing his thesis project on a similar topic -- but focusing mainly on online video games, I'll have to out you two in touch!

I am mainly interested in the way reconciliation media tend to incorporate a politics of sameness in the design  (to reduce inequalities), but in turn, visually reiterate the racial boundaries. I hoped that this project shows how these images can reach anyone in the world and can reposted and redistributed at any time.

Keep in touch!



Hi Kelsey,

I'd love be in touch with your friend.

By the way, are you familiar with Kimberly  Christen? She has a bunch of projects which I think touch upon the same issues as yours. Here is her website:

All the best,





Iskandar -- thanks so much for the link to Kimberly's work. I can't believe I have not run into her work yet! This is a fantastic source. :-)