Tuesday June 11, Track #1

A Space-Place GIScience Framework for Transdisciplinary Geospatial Humanities

Shih-Lung Shaw, University of Tennessee, and Daniel Sui, University of Arkansas

Geospatial humanities research involves many disciplines that cover a wide range of different perspectives and methods. As indicated in the Call for Participation of this Symposium, spatial humanities tend to be quantitative and spatial while geohumanities often are qualitative and place- based. Conventional geographic information systems (GIS) adopt the traditional cartographic approach of mapping everything based on Euclidean geometry and Cartesian coordinate system in absolute space that assumes an infinite and immovable space without considering anything contextual or subjective. This approach is conceptually constrained due to its confinement to absolute space and physical place, which is insufficient to support humanities research. To advance transdisciplinary geospatial humanities, we need to move beyond the crude, and often simplistic, conceptualizations of space and place by synthesizing the multiple dimensions of both space and place. Specifically, we propose a Space-Place (Splatial) GIScience Framework that integrates the concepts of absolute space (where are different things?), relative space (what are around us?), relational space (what are related to us?), and mental space (what do people have in mind?). In addition, these four concepts of space have their corresponding dimensions of place, which are location for absolute space, locale for relative space, place identity and dynamics for relational space, and sense of place for mental space (see Figure 1). Humans instead of locations are at the center of this framework and the different spaces/places can be associated with each other through transformations or linkages. This Splatial GIScience Framework will enable researchers in various disciplines to pursue humanities research with the perspectives and methods that best fit their research needs while making it feasible to conduct transdisciplinary research that transcends disciplinary boundaries to improve our understanding of human activities that are increasingly being conducted in a hybrid of both physical and virtual environments.


Speculative GIScience: for geographical imagination systems (gis)

Luke Bergmann, University of British Columbia and Nick Lally, University of Kentucky

Synergies between the humanities and the geospatial sciences will come not only from the application of GIScience, but in a transformative expansion of what and how GIScience can know. The ontological and epistemological challenges of incorporating geohumanistic ways of knowing into computation suggest, inter alia, the development of visual practices, data models, and algorithms that foreground knowledge as interpreted, phenomena as emerging out of relations and processes, and spaces as emergent, multiple, and positioned. To suggest the opportunities that thus arise for geographical computation, we advocate for geographical imagination systems (gis). In particular, we present one such protoype that we have been developing: enfolding. Enfolding is an online gis platform in which users can visualize relational understandings of space by redefining distances among points; a warped relational space then emerges from the use of multidimensional scaling. As such, Euclidean geographical spaces (and their coordinate systems) are stretched, folded, cut, and montaged in acts of interpretation. This gis illustrates formal approaches GIScience might take if it were to understand space and phenomena as mutually-constitutive and interpreted, not always-already individuated and strictly objective. More such interventions in the realm of theory and software, moves which bring the theoretical commitments of the humanities and GIScience into closer alignment, will be of significant benefit in the pursuit of synergies between those fields. We thus invite our colleagues to follow the leads of speculative computing in the digital humanities and of Critical GIS in geography and join us to experiment in speculative GIScience.


Spatial Archaeology: Mapping the Ancient Past with Sciences and the Humanities

Tiffany Earley-Spadoni (University of Central Florida) and Michael J. Harrower (Johns Hopkins University)

Can archaeology be both a scientific and humanistic discipline, and should it be?
It may surprise those outside of the field that there is no disciplinary consensus regarding what archaeology is: a science, part of the humanities, a social science, a historical science, or something else entirely (Lewis 2018)? However, a wide diversity of methods and practices, and the ability to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries is, arguably, a strength of archaeology rather than a weakness. In this paper, we examine the results archaeology generates and the contributions it makes when it is framed as a science, when it presents as part of the humanities, and when it bridges both. This review focuses on spatial archaeology, a sub-field that has expanded dramatically during the last few decades. Using a range of GIS-related examples, we argue that archaeology is strongest, and can best contribute to resolving problems of the present and future, when it combines the strengths and values of both the sciences and the humanities.


Letters from Spain in a space/time box: understanding the chronotopes of 19th-century travel and travelogues through historical GIS and 3D visualization

Eugenia Afinoguenova, Marquette University; Andrea Ballard, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Stephen Appel, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Chris Larkee, Marquette University

Early tourists were not necessarily good at describing places. Prior to setting off, they would read guidebooks and narratives written by earlier travelers; they would sometimes cut out paragraphs from other books and glue them into a scrapbook leaving spaces in between for their own descriptions and sketches (Schulz-Forberg 2005). In nineteenth-century travel literature, each mention of place was thus related, not only to physical space, but also to other texts. Describing places was inseparable from writing about the fast-developing means of mobility used to get there. Men and women traveled, but the gender of the narrator was neatly correlated to the expectations of potential readers, since travelogues were a highly commercial genre. The descriptions of space were also closely related to time, be it the time of history, the linear timeline of progress, or the circularity of agrarian cycles of seasons and celebrations.
Approaching travelogues as if they were hypertexts of the pre-digital age, with each mention of place or tourist attraction related, not just to their physical referents, but also to other texts, available maps, transportation schedules, and so on, the Spanish Travelers Project (spanishtravelers.com) examines the interplay between texts, mobility, gender and time, on the one hand, and the authoritative perceptions of space in the form of historical maps, on the other.

Our research questions are the following:

  1. Is there any correlation between the means of mobility—horses, donkeys, shared horse-driven carriages, walking, trains, sailboats, and steamers-- available to 19th century travelers, on the one hand, and the repertory of destinations that they visited?
  2. How did different types of mobility affect, not only the timelines of travels, but also the ways in which these timelines were narrated in travel literature?
  3. How, if at all, did the gender and the country of origin of the writers and the travelers affect the timelines and the destinations of their travels and the ways in which these were described?

 To answer these questions, the project team is using GIS and 3D “space-time cube” modeling (Kraak, 2014) to visualize what, following the literature theorist Mikhail Bakhtin (1975), we call "chronotopes" of travel literature-- the interdependence of the formal elements related to narrative time and space. The project will offer an interactive map of itineraries from multiple travelogues about Spain written in different languages, by female and male authors, before and after the 1860s boom of railway tourism in Spain.


HGIS 2.0 - Historical spatial data infrastructures: a trans-disciplinary approach to deep mapping industrial heritage

Don Lafrenierea, Dan Trepala, Sarah Fayen Scarletta, Robert Pastelb, Michael Bleddynna, John Arnoldc

aDept. of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton MI USA
b Dept. of Computer Science, Michigan Technological University, Houghton MI USA
c Upper Peninsula Engineers and Architects, Houghton MI USA

Historical GIS and the spatial humanities as academic disciplines are now in their adolescence. Scholars from across the social sciences and humanities have embraced the ‘spatial turn’ and have turned to geospatial technologies including GIS to interrogate, explore, and visualize historical maps, documents and data. However, the ability to utilize disparate datasets together, and produce models and knowledge about spatio-temporal relationships continues to be a substantial challenge to each discipline. A theoretical framework has been created to address this issue, the deep map, but even with considerable advances, we have yet to see one fully developed and operational. Herein we present the Copper Country Historical Spatial Data Infrastructure (CC-HSDI), a deep map, created through transdisciplinary and public collaborations, that tracks changes to the built environment and social environment from 1860-1950. Using Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, a threatened post-industrial copper mining landscape as a case study, the CC-HSDI models the historic environment at multiple scales, from specific rooms within structures, and individuals within families, to the entire region and creation of communities. We outline how the HSDI approach to deep mapping aids academics, preservation professionals, community groups, and the general public in better understanding, sharing, protecting, and promoting heritage in a post-industrial landscape.


Bridging the gap between pre-census and census era historical data: Devising a geo-sampling model to analyze agricultural production in the long-run for Southeast Europe and Anatolia, 1840-1940

M. Erdem Kabadayı, Piet Gerrits*, Grigor Boykov, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey

 This paper introduces a novel geo-spatial model to overcome a major difficulty in historical economic geography. Generally, published census data, be it contemporary or historical, is territory-based and available in aggregated levels for administrative units with varying spatial resolution. Pre-census micro level individual economic data on the other hand, is normally point-based. In geo-spatial terms, we can attribute census data to polygons, but pre-census individual data to points. We have developed a method to curate commensurable panel data for agricultural production for regions, covering 100 years, starting from pre-census Ottoman era in the 1840s and ending in the 1940s, with available series of national censuses


Tuesday June 11, Track #2 

The Role of Precision in Spatial Narratives: Using a Modified Discourse Quality Index to Measure the Quality of Deliberative Spatial Data

Chris Marder, University of Southern California, and Jennifer Bernstein

Spatial precision in geographic information science (GIScience) is not limited to quantitative spatial data. Spatial precision can be applied to qualitative datasets. Furthermore, spatial precision can be detected via narrative, and how people use spatial precision to communicate can impact how spatial narratives are understood and valued. This project suggested researching spatial precision in narratives can help GIScience and spatial humanities understand how people can communicate spatial thinking when describing their relationships with landscapes.


A spatial analysis of selected art: a GIScience-humanities interface

Daniel Griffith, University of Texas at Dallas

Geography, in part through cartography—such as map making and decorating—and now through visualization in geographic information systems (GISs), maintains a historical connection to art. Mathematics, in part through geometry—such as origami, Archimedian polyhedra, Gaussian cyclic supercharacter images, and more recently Escher’s non-Euclidean (i.e., hyperbolic) prints—and now through computational mathematics (i.e., scientific computing that produces, for example, pictures of fractals), also maintains a historical connection to and rich affiliation with art (Schattschneider, 2003; Farsi and Craft, 2005; Malkevitch 2009). Because art tends to focus on pattern rather than randomness (even for Pollock’s drip and pointillism paintings), spatial autocorrelation (SA)—attribute values of neighboring geographic locations are far more similar than those of more distant locations—a fundamental concept of geospatial information science, almost always is conspicuous in art paintings. This connection allows spatial statistics to be extended to the geohumanities and spatial humanities, as well as to humanistic mathematics, by an integration of geography’s and mathematics’ interfaces with art. One set of critical ingredients for this extension includes the spatial weights matrix and its abstract mathematical properties known as eigenfunctions, which coalesce in a completely unexpected interface between geography, mathematics, and art. Griffith (2016) already demonstrates this connection with a relatively new methodology known as Moran eigenvector spatial filtering applied to paintings by artist Susie Rosmarin. This paper applies a modified version of this technique, block Moran eigenvector spatial filtering, formulated by Chun and Griffith (2019) for remotely sensed images, to Rosmarin’s paintings, and contrasts results with ones for remotely sensed images presented as art by, for example, Young and Kelly (2017).


Representation in Geosocial Data: Grappling with Uncertainty in Digital Traces of Human Activity

Carolynne Hultquist, Penn State University

Digital traces of social activities have tremendous potential to be used to better understand the social dynamics of society. Geosocial data leave a record of human digital activities and are often used as a proxy for studying social activities. However, studies that make use of these large social datasets of human activities need to critically evaluate how the nature of the data
limits its representativeness. Despite its volume, digital social data may not be representative of the population as the collection is unsampled and may not represent the patterns of the general population. Before generalizing characteristics about society, it is essential to understand the limits of using geosocial data and traditional geospatial tools to address questions about
patterns of human activities.


Being Human Under Pervasive Tracking and Algorithmic Controls

Harlan Onsrud, University of Maine

There are vast numbers of algorithms on which we depend every day and yet we often do so unknowingly. (Fry p3) These algorithms feed off of data. Modern information systems gather detailed location-based, place-based, and transactional data that is aggregated, accessed, exchanged, and sold among businesses with few practical constraints on use other than access and transfers must be for legitimate business purposes. Information system feedback, options, and opportunities provided to users and consumers are not optimized primarily to promote better decision-making on their part. Nor are human activity tracking and service delivery systems optimized through their designs to support ethical concepts such as those of beneficence, non-malfeasance, justice, and individual autonomy (Beauchamp and Childress). Most commercial information systems incorporating big data and supporting human-decision making are blind to such considerations. Rather, such systems are designed with the primary goal of maximizing profits for the owners of such systems. Using machine learning, automated reasoning, and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms automatically take actions according to criteria set up by software developers with the ultimate criteria of profit maximization regardless of the overall effects on individuals or society as a whole.


Humanistic GIS: An Individual's Pursuit of Poetic Dwelling on Digital Earth

 Bo Zhao, Oregon State University

In this research, the topic ‘Humanistic GIS’ is proposed to incorporate human experience into the process of GIS design, development and critique. Unlike traditional approaches that recognize GIS as a mere tool/technology, a science or a social construct, this research agenda scrutinizes GIS by its consistent mediation between human and place, and defines its essence as a geospatial way of revealing. Humanistic GIS prioritizes GIS-mediated experience over the immediate physical experience of a place. Through the examination of various GIS-mediated experiences, the intentionality of GIS is revealed and further exemplified by four major types: embodiment, hermeneutic, autonomous and background. Instead of employing a concrete value judgement, humanistic GIS analyze the complicated implications of GIS through value structure, especially when uncovering those unintended but vital influences, including but not limited to, physiological discomfort, fake geospatial information, competition with GIS and surveillance. In addition to its theoretical contributions, humanistic GIS also shows great potential for methodologically improving GIS by including quantified subjective sentiments of place. It must be noted that this proposal is not to replace today’s prosperity of GIS. Instead, to improve it on the basis of both technological advances and by adding the humanistic perspective. Thus, a sustainable pathway can be paved by GIScientists to ultimately reconcile the ever-increasing livelihood demands and rapid proliferation of contemporary GIS, with the goal of poetic dwelling on Digital Earth.