Pacific Languages and Cultures Mapping: GIS Spatial Humanities Approaches to Linguistics, Archaeology, and History

University of California, U.S.A.

This digital linguistic and cultural atlas of Pacific languages is based on the UNESCO Language Atlas of the Pacific Area. 47-map sheets have been pieced together into a seamless vectored geographical information system (GIS) database spanning 30,000 islands. The project includes aggregating existing geo-referenced data of individual islands and complex island ecosystems and their inter-connectivity. Local people are integrated into the research using volunteer geographic information strategies recording and posting their aesthetic values and stories intelligible for their own society and international community. This collaborative atlas project is useful to show visualized displays contributing to discovering knowledge, answering questions, and seeking other questions. The use of GIS spatial humanities tools produces layers of maps portrayed in different ways from early to contemporary maps for illustrating the dynamics of island and sociocultural transformations from perspectives of linguistics, archaeology, and history. The Language Atlas of the Pacific Area was digitized by the Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, for the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI), University of California, Berkeley, USA. Currently the GIS Centre, Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, and Institute of Information, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, are managing the data as ECAI CKAN offering comprehensive software making data accessible and usable by providing ‘out-of-the-box’ tools for publishing, finding, and sharing stored data with robust dataset application interfaces.  These maps provide the best annotation possibilities for the peoples, locations, and references of a specified time including local cultural records. Map overlays are employed using such features as Google Earth. CKAN facilitates data publishing for academic institutes providing GIS digital approaches for analysing culture and history available to wider local communities and researchers.