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Knowledge Encounters - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Knowledge Encounters Julie Cruikshank’s investigation of St. Elias Mountains raises various questions. Examples include how man’s perception of landscapes can help in shaping or revealing culture. In other words, Cruikshank’s examination raises the question of how descriptions and stories of a specific place where encounters happen may enhance man’s comprehension of these encounters, as well as their after effects…
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Download file to see previous pages Majority of scholars working on post-colonial effects in diverse fields like history, literature, geography, anthropology, and other sources of knowledge have led to complications when comprehending encounters and their socio-politics as a moment of hegemonic and totalizing dominance of culture and knowledge production. Rather, they make it out to be more variable, difficult, and nuanced moment, as well as space, of encounter as Kant would put it (Durkheim & Fields 10). However, according to Cruikshank, the encounter and its aftermath is about how our relations are structured and how man constructs knowledge about his physical surroundings. After European accounts following their encounters with landscapes supersede the accounts of the natives, travel and scientific discourses took up, position as the fundamental means through which northwestern geography could be understood (Cruikshank 88). For the people who were indigenous to the St. Elias Mountains, the glaciers were considered to be permanent boundaries that separated the static landscape from the humans. In their case, they were moving structures that they endowed with the sense of hearing, taste, and smelling. However, the native accounts should not be valued as historically fixed or as the truth that needs to be examined and discovered by scholars or explorers (Cruikshank 89). Rather, the native accounts about sentient glaciers show the fact that nature and man mutually make, as well as maintain, knowledge of a world that is habitable. Cruikshank is careful in asserting that glaciers must not be reduced to metaphors or scientific data (Cruikshank 108). Glaciers in their forcefulness, unpredictability, complexity, and changeability give a model for cultural history and knowledge production. The author makes her argument in a way that pays careful attention to representative politics, which is made difficult by the fact that she is using oral testimony in her work, while also discussing the representative difficulties of nature. She discusses in her book the account, in glaciers given by the natives, an examination of accounts by western explorers, and the US. In addition, she discusses a critical look at the nature of the glacier as part of the border between Canada and the US, and mapping’s role in the context of nationalism (Cruikshank 115). By giving a history of the Alaskan Gulf region and juxtaposing it with historical accounts from Europe about their ice age and histories from Tlingit, the glaciers became social spaces where people produce knowledge, rather than discover it. Oral accounts also allow the ability to examine the relationship between culture and nature, as well as how knowledge was constructed according to their cultures. Glaciers as used by Cruikshank aid in the examination of how glaciers are depicted and how social and natural knowledge is entangled. In the latter Ice Age period, social upheaval and geophysical changes in the mountains coincided (Cruikshank 120). The visitors from Europe came with conceptions about nature as a spiritual and sublime resource for the progress of man. To them, glaciers were inanimate features that needed to be measured and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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