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- Scholarly Musings
Owning Geographical Knowledge: Mitchell’s Map of the 19 Counties
With Isabella Alexander
When Surveyor General Thomas Livingston Mitchell published the now-famous Map of the Nineteen Counties in 1834, it provided the basis for an orderly system of land sales in the colony of New South Wales. While the map provided the basis for allocating and recording the appropriation and ownership of land, controversy arose over ownership of the map itself. This talk will examine the disputes that arose between Mitchell, the Governor, the Colonial Office and one of Mitchell’s surveyors over who had the right to produce, disseminate, and profit from, geographical knowledge in colonial Australia. It will consider the meaning of such controversies in the context in which they occurred, and what they reveal about ongoing tensions between private rights and public interests today.
Isabella Alexander is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney. She is the 2017 NSLA Honorary Fellow for her research project ‘Commercial map making and copyright law in Australia from 1788 to 1917’. She researches in the field of intellectual property law, in particular the history of copyright law.
Image: To the Right Honorable Edward Geoffrey Smith Stanley this map of the Colony of New South Wales [cartographic material] / [...] drawn by T.L. Mitchell; engraved by John Carmichael. Call number: SAFE/MC 811/1834/1A.