OSullivan 2006: Critical GIS

I found this article on critical GIS quite interesting, and very relevant to our topics in GIS ranging from VGI to PPGIS. This paper acknowledges the large gap in the GIScience literature pertaining to social theory, which I find is a very important idea to keep in mind especially when assessing papers in GIS literature involving human participation, and in a more veiled sense, GIS projects that may only represent certain groups and impose geographies on those not involved in the GIS process. This parallels an interesting idea brought up, which we geographers take for granted at this point, being the realization that projections can be used to disproportionately inflate the west, or under represent countries in the global south. In this sense, I agree with the author in that there should be more papers or a book even on the social history of GIS, as to ground the science to meet the ethical issues we often overlook when interacting with a GISystem. This is especially important as the technology enabling GIS at the individual level through the increased prevalence and use of lifestyle databases in GIS literature grows.

Beyond critical GIS as an ethical consideration, I found the added benefit of feminist/critical GIS in Kwan’s work really quite interesting and revolutionary for qualitative GIS and as a tool of empowerment under represented groups who could benefit from GIS to explain their stories and perspectives.

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