Mapping Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls
Beyond Colonizing Data and Mapping Practices
Keywords:Indigenous, gender violence, data sovereignty, critical cartography
There is a critical lack of scholarship interrogating how ‘making sense’ of and mapping violence against Indigenous people itself has functioned to facilitate ongoing violence, through practices I call data terrorism. In this paper, I examine how initiatives aimed at collecting data on gender violence against Indigenous women and girls for the purposes of mapping are a product of a collision of colonial obsessions with Indigenous women’s bodies and cartography and data as tools of surveillance and domination. These colonial and heteropatriarchal data and mapping practices work to further entrench settler colonial power, terrorize Indigenous women, and create conditions that facilitate ongoing violence targeting Indigenous women. I argue that this approach to mapping data on violence against Indigenous women is fundamentally rooted in colonial understandings of maps as empirical truth-divining tools, rather than as subjective storytelling devices. Such mapping actively empowers settler colonial states to be the authority on Indigenous women’s bodies, rather than Indigenous women themselves. I close with reflections on how Indigenous sovereignty in data and cartography can enhance the sovereignty of Indigenous women and their nations, and empower Indigenous communities to design more effective data-driven solutions to address gender violence.
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