Critical GIS and Ontology Research, Schuurman (2006)

The Schuurman (2006) article presents the emergence of critical GIS, criticisms of early GIS research that necessitated its conception, and its importance to the discipline of GIScience more broadly. It was interesting to get a glimpse of how critical GIS relates to a number of GIScience topics we’ve already begun to cover, and I think the summary of emergent themes in critical GIS provided and excellent primer for next week’s lecture.

There’s a parallel to be drawn between the synthesis of human geography and geographic techniques to form critical GIScience and the emergence of environmental studies as an integration of environmental and social science principles. For instance, the domain of ecology alone is ill-equipped to handle conservation issues related to resource management. It’s the introduction of sociological principles that enables critique of an antiquated form of environmentalism that might value biodiversity over livelihoods. I’m convinced of the importance of critical theoretical work in supplementing a mechanistic approach to geography.

I was glad to see the topic of vagueness make an appearance! I think the author’s discussion of uncertain conceptual spaces does well to demonstrate the importance of human geography concepts to what Sparke (2000) might refer to as “real-worlders.” It’s sometimes easy to forget how poorly defined some physical geographic concepts can be–at what point does a pond become a lake, or what temporal constraints exist regarding lake-hood? Ontological and epistemological research is clearly a necessary step in addressing uncertainty in GIS applications.

Comments are closed.