Colonial Lanscapes on the Northwest Coast of North America

Colonial Lanscapes on the Northwest Coast of North America

My doctoral research investigated the social history of the Fraser Valley, Western Canada, from ‘pre-contact’ to the unsettling and sometimes violent upheavals of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century colonialism. Drawing on a diverse range of artefacts, from ethnographic texts and archaeological evidence to cartography and historical writing, this project traced the contours of landscape transformations and the way that changes in the land were implicated in constructing different perceptions of history, identity and place among Natives and newcomers. Recently, I published my conclusions in a major new book.

Continuing research in this area combines a focus on material culture and landscape with an examination of the history of intercultural relations. Because this period witnessed dramatic and yet asymmetric social and cultural changes, it provides fertile ground in which to explore the varied ways that interaction affected the development of both indigenous and incoming societies and how this was resolved at different times and places.

Funding and Related Publications


This project has been partly funded by The Carnegie Trust For The Universities of Scotland

Related Publications

  • Oliver, JM. (in press). 'Native-lived Colonialism and the Agency of Life Projects: A View from the Northwest Coast'. in N Ferris, R Harrison & M Wilcox (eds), Rethinking Colonial Pasts through Archaeology. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Oliver, JM. (2013). 'Harnessing the Land: the place of pioneering in early modern British Columbia'. in M Relaki & D Catapoti (eds), An Archaeology of Land Ownership. Routledge studies in archaeology, Routledge, London, pp. 170-191.
  • Oliver, JM. (2013). 'History from the Ground Up: Historical Ecology and Temporality in Colonial British Columbia'. in PE Pope & S Lewis-Simpson (eds), Exploring Atlantic Transitions: Archaeologies of Transience and Permanence in New Found Lands. Society for Post Medieval Archaeology Monograph Series, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, pp. 103-114.
  • Oliver, JM. (2013). 'Reflections on Resistance: Agency, Identity and Being Indigenous in Colonial British Columbia'. in J Symonds, A Badcock & J Oliver (eds), Historical Archaeologies of Cognition: Explorations into Faith, Hope and Charity. Equinox Publishing, Sheffield, pp. 98-116.
  • Oliver, J. (2011). On mapping and its afterlife: unfolding landscapes in northwestern North America. World Archaeology 43(1): 66-85.
  • Oliver, J. (2010). Landscapes and Social Transformations on the Northwest Coast: Colonial Encounters in the Fraser Valley. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
  • Oliver, J. (2009). Canadian and American Settlements of the Northwest Coast. In F.P. McManamon, L.S. Cordell, K.G. Lightfoot and G.R. Milner (eds) Archaeology in America: An Encyclopedia, 184-188. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  • Oliver, J. (2007). Beyond the water's edge: towards a social archaeology of landscape on the Northwest Coast. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 31(1): 1-27.
  • Oliver, J. (2007). 'The Paradox of Progress: Land Survey and the Making of Agrarian Society in Colonial British Columbia'. In L. McAtackney, M. Palus and A. Piccini (eds.) Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory, 31-38. BAR, International Series S1677. Oxford: Archaeopress.