Concordia University

Jill Didur teaches postcolonial literature and theory in the English Department at Concordia University, Montreal. Her current research considers the discursive and material relationships between the plant-collecting practices and memoirs of colonial botanists in South Asia, contemporary postcolonial writing about the Himalayas, and alpine and rock gardening culture globally.

Mis-Guided Narratives: Locative Media in Globalized Environments

This paper will consider the role locative and mobile media applications can play in shaping garden visitors’ experience of narrative and landscape. Her presentation will discuss the locative media project she is conceptualizing and developing with Ian Arawjo through Concordia’s NT2 Lav to be piloted in a public botanical garden in the spring of 2013. Entitled “A Mis-Guide to Himalayan Plants,” my mobile media application links features the botanical garden with a series of faux botanical drawings of Himalayan plants and alpine scenes, a series of narrative based files on Himalayan plant hunting memoirs, and the history of colonialism and rock and alpine gardening. Rather than providing didactic information about the types of plants contained in the garden, the operation and content of the mobile platform places the garden setting in tension with an archive of visual and written material related to the history of colonial botanical exploration in the Himalayan region, analysis of travel writing and garden manuals related to the collection and propagation of alpine seeds and plants, and reflections on how colonial culture has shaped the design of contemporary and alpine and rock gardens. Through a discussion of the structure and implementation of the ‘Mis-Guide,’ I will consider how mobile media platforms alter the relations between reader, narrative, and landscape and offer new critical tools for unpacking the impact of globalization and imperialism on perceptions of the environment in contemporary gardens, parks, and nature preserves.