Archive for September, 2019

Do geospatial ontologies perpetuate Indigenous assimilation? (Reid & Sieber, 2019)

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

To answer the title of the paper succinctly: yes, geospatial ontologies do perpetuate Indigenous assimilation when no Indigenous perspectives are considered; however, if researchers do consider Indigenous perspectives, decolonization of geospatial research is possible. Indigenous people across the globe view their landscape much differently than western geographers do; for example, physical entities can have their own agency, there are less abrupt changes between different aspects of the landscape, and often there is no separation between cultural beliefs and the entity itself.  With more Indigenous experts participating in discussions of ethnophysiography and geospatial ontologies, it appears that there can be no universality of geospatial ontologies and that multiple worlds must exist.

Concerning GIScience, ontologies have an important place in discussing landscape perspectives, especially in an ever-connected and technologically-driven world where standardization and simplicity reign. With the rise of the neogeography and VGI, geospatial ontologies are more important than ever, as everyone who is contributing geographic data should view physical entities of their landscape in a similar manner in order for the data to be viewed as accurate and useful.

After reading this paper, I have some questions regarding Indigenous ontologies and geospatial ontologies generally: how much differentiation is there between different Indigenous groups’ perspectives of their landscape? How often was universality discussed before the creation of the internet? What is the research on ontology universality like today – is it still a popular field of research like it was in the 2000s?  How do Indigenous perspectives translate to modern technology – do computers have trouble understanding their view of the landscape? What else is being done to decolonize geographic research?

I realize some of these questions might have answers in other literature, especially since I do not have a lot of prior research in Indigenous studies nor ontologies, and I welcome any response educating me or pointing me in the direction of other papers that may answer my questions.




Introducing Myself _ Qiao

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

Hi everyone. My name is Qiao Zhao. I am from China. I am a PhD student in the Department of Geography. My supervisor is Prof. Kevin Manaugh.

Cycling is prevalent among low-come and minority communities, but it is sometimes described as a white thing. Equity has emerged as an important consideration for transportation officials working on developing connected multimodal systems that provide meaningful choices in transportation. However, bicycle equity makes up a relatively small segment of the transportation equity literature. My research explores questions related to transportation equity. I focus particularly on issues related to cycling and on the experiences of disadvantaged populations.

My research aims to provide a comprehensive methodology for bicycle network planning in order to assistant governments in providing cycling infrastructure in an equitable manner. I integrate multiple methodologies into my research including statistical analysis and geographic information systems to try to understand how to improve the ability of disadvantaged populations to travel safely and conveniently via cycling and achieve an equitable transportation system that can provide options in how people access various destination.

My supervisor and I are working on assessing the impact of elevation on commuter mode choice at the census tract level.

Indigenous Geospatial Ontologies (Reid & Sieber, 2019)

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

In this paper, Reid and Sieber (2019) argued that universality in geospatial ontologies may disempower Indigenous knowledge holders and assimilate Indigenous people. They compared Indigenous ontologies with geospatial ontologies and argued that conventional ontologies fail to take into consideration Indigenous conceptualizations including: 1. Continuum between mental processes and the physical; 2. Inclusivity of all entities; 3. Agency in geographic entities and natural phenomena; and 4. Predominance of relationships. While I haven’t read much of the literature on geospatial and Indigenous ontologies, the paper is easy to follow and makes the complex topic easily understood and digestible. Even so, it does seem a bit thin on solutions for overcoming the issues it well described.

The authors introduced some methods used to address universality in conventional ontologies. They stated that the integration of participatory approaches and geospatial ontologies provides ample opportunities to capture and represent Indigenous conceptualizations of spatial phenomenon, which reminds me of the issues of researcher’s positioning in participatory research. The researchers who have been perceived by Indigenous people as outsiders may have to spend a long period to build trust and rapport with the participants. Also, power relationships are highlighted while a range of Indigenous experts is involved in the development of ontologies. Would high-power people play larger roles in the process? Further, I am left wondering how to incorporate qualitative data into geospatial ontologies and GIS.