Kwan et al: Prospects for a Feminist GIScience?

I find Kwan’s article very helpful in demonstrating the opportunities and limitations of applying GIS to Feminist geography. Though some of the specific examples of Feminist critiques of GIS used language that seemed slightly hyperbolic, I found the overall essence of the critiques to be convincing. These critiques, not only of GIS but more broadly of positivist science, point to a false sense of objectivity, especially in the sense of the “god’s-eye” view of space that GIS promotes. Since technology like GIS is more often in the hands of powerful actors, the result is that this false sense of objectivity legitimizes the marginalization that powerful actors can inflict groups whose perspectives they dismiss as “subjective”. Embracing subjectivity and applying GIS to the lived experiences of people could indeed put GIS to use as an agent of positive social change. However, one problem for the GIS community could be that this use of GIS would fall on the tool side rather than the side of GIScience. This may be unappealing to those GIS practitioners who see GIScience as the more legitimate and fulfilling incarnation of GIS. Successful application of GIS to Feminist geographical perspectives would most likely be cases of Feminist geographers using GIS as a tool. However, if this application of GIS were to lead to the posing of new questions within Feminist geography that would not have been conceived without GIS, then such cases could indeed be examples of Feminist GIScience. The examples of Feminist Visualizations described by Kwan could potentially be described as such, if they can be used to test Feminist Geographical hypotheses.

  • Yojo

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