Geoscience Reference
In-Depth Information
Contextual understanding of fictional texts is crucial if those sources are to make
a distinctive contribution to geographical knowledge. Sharp (2000) highlights
the subjectivity inherent in analysis of fictional texts; for that reason, although
fictional accounts of the Great Barrier Reef were collected, that material was
used to exemplify general perceptions of coral reefs rather than analysed for
historical information using the criteria that were applied to other books.
In works of historical fiction - such as Death on the Barrier Reef (Antill, 1952)
- any descriptions of coral reefs and their associated environments and species
that could be precisely located within the Great Barrier Reef were collected;
however, there were very few such examples. In addition, however, pieces of
descriptive text relating to unidentifiable reef locations were also collected if
they represented exemplary or evocative writing about the Great Barrier Reef.
Fictional texts were searched for material which illustrated changing cultural
constructions, as well as changing physical environments, of the Great Barrier
Reef. Fewer works of historical fiction were found than other historical books,
and fewer data were taken from these works. Love (2000) has provided a useful
account of the ways in which scientific accounts of the Great Barrier Reef
contrast with fictional works.
Historical leaflets form a small but highly descriptive documentary source; those
documents were primarily intended to promote the Great Barrier Reef to visitors,
particularly tourists. Most of the historical leaflets consulted in my research
were published by the Queensland Government Intelligence and Tourist Bureau
(QGITB), which later became the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau
(QGTB). Other, more scientific, leaflets were produced by the GBRC. The
leaflets reflect the descriptions and cultural constructions of the Great Barrier
Reef at the time of increasing tourist development in the area. The tourist leaflets
required especially cautious interpretation; they contain superlative descriptions
of corals and marine wildlife in an attempt to attract visitors. In contrast, the
information leaflets produced by the GBRC present a less emotive image and
contain more systematic coverage of the reefs.
Government reports
In my research, a distinction was made between government reports (the
published, annual reports of Queensland Government departments) and
government records (the unpublished correspondence and other files held in
Queensland Government departmental offices and in the QSA). The reports
used as data sources included the published annual reports of several Queensland
Government departments, including the QDHM, the Queensland Department
of Agriculture and Stock (QDAS), the QDNA and the Agent-General for
Queensland in London. Materials relevant to the Great Barrier Reef were found
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