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Educational Research for Social Change

On-line version ISSN 2221-4070


BAKER, Jayna McQueen; HUDDLESTON, Gabriel  and  ATWOOD, Erin. The Map as Object: Working Beyond Bounded Realities and Mapping for Social Change. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2019, vol.8, n.1, pp.138-152. ISSN 2221-4070.

Research supports the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to inform and direct action in geography and urban planning. As critical researchers, we also see the power of GIS in participatory projects with students to analyse power, privilege, and oppression in order to move toward action. Understanding that meaning shifts through an interplay of social, linguistic, and material interactions, GIS has the unique ability to show fluidity yet connectedness across geographic borders, providing intriguing opportunities as a research tool. Drawing on recent studies of GIS in research, we recognise the potential to build understanding of spatial context as both socially and politically constructed, but also the tendency to see a map as bounded data in finality. We argue here the importance to return the data back to the material itself in order to avoid reifying a flat, discursive representation of the material without claiming agency. Through the planning of a participatory project with GIS as a research tool, we consider the implications, cautions, and potential of using GIS as a fluid and incomplete representation of a moment in time and space that is also a path moving toward something else.

Keywords : geographic information systems; new materialism; social justice; youth participatory action research (YPAR).

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