Colonialism, Landscape and the Subterranean

Heidi V. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (SciVal)


Recent geographical contributions to post-colonial studies have paid relatively little attention to subterranean spaces as arenas of modern European imperial and colonial expansion and instead have concentrated almost exclusively on examining ‘surface’ landscapes and practices. This article argues that greater critical attention deserves to be paid by geographers to the ‘colonial underground’, not only because mining played a central role in many imperial ventures since the 16th century, but also because closer scrutiny of the vertical dimension can provide new insights into the nature of colonial relations and into the ways in which colonial landscapes were inhabited and given meaning. Drawing on recent literature as well as on documentation from early colonial Peru, the article shows that colonial European engagements with the underground were more varied than most work in human geography suggests and, moreover, that the subterranean cannot exclusively be regarded as a space of colonial domination and exploitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1853-1869
Number of pages17
JournalGeography Compass
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2008


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