GIS, Indigenous Peoples, and Epistemological Diversity
Author: Rundstrom, Robert A.
Source: Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 1 January 1995, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 45-57(13)
Abstract:Technology transfer and data-sharing are of central importance in exporting geographic information systems technology (GIS) to the non-Western world. Yet the impulse to export GIS has not been examined for its effects on other cultural systems of geographical knowledge, especially ones that differ substantially from the way most North Americans and Europeans know about the world. I am especially interested in the effects of GIS on the epistemological diversity still manifest among the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In this article, I compare Euro-North American characteristics of geographical knowledge with those of indigenous peoples, looking particularly at how knowledge is developed and maintained differently. Special attention is paid to the differences between cultures that inscribe (writing tradition) and those that incorporate (oral tradition), and the importance of studying the process by which one learns geographical information. The role of GIS in assimilating indigenous North Americans to a Eurocentric way of knowing about the world is then discussed. In the conclusion, I propose that a GIS research agenda include cross-cultural studies of knowledge transformation and culture change.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 1995