MANNAHATTA + CUBA // Reading Responses

My initial response to either reading has to do with the fallacy that either case was a true discovery of anything other than the fact that the land was already occupied. Both articles use language that suggest that the natives and Europeans lived as "neighbors" or speak of the natives as "moving" out of a certain area that was then turned into farming lands, which speaks to the narrative that this colonization was indeed a mutually beneficial and/or justifiable act, which made me uncomfortable.

In both readings we can see the relationship between a subjective, lived experience and what becomes documentation from that experience. Although we often think of a document as objective, especially when used through a lens of history or science, we know by now that those, too, are quite subjective. When the basis of documentation is word-of-mouth even more is left to interpretation in cases where writings are looked at hundreds and even thousands of years later. In the case of Cuba I was extremely surprised by how many variations of paths there are on the table for discussion and how some recollections have the journey going int he complete opposite direction from the rest when each trip was mapped out from the same data sets. In a similar way, regarding the creation of geographic information system data for Manhattan's historical ecology, we see how a mistake in transferring data to different forms can also create discrepancies. In this case, the discrepancies were made through the incorrect manipulation of overlapping data and how that could potentially be carried throughout research for years to come.

This relates directly to our study of Riker's Island in a way that became apparent through continued interviewing. We began to realize how different each user's perceptions of the same space were. The perspective of the inmate, the corrections officer working, the visitors and the workers that will be there once the facilities are gone will each give a different account. I believe the strength in our research would be the overlaying of these accounts to truly flesh out the narrative of Riker's Island - what it is now and what it is preparing to become.

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