The Spatial Humanities
152 pages
English

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152 pages
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Description

Applying the analytical tools of GIS to new fields of research


Geographic information systems (GIS) have spurred a renewed interest in the influence of geographical space on human behavior and cultural development. Ideally GIS enables humanities scholars to discover relationships of memory, artifact, and experience that exist in a particular place and across time. Although successfully used by other disciplines, efforts by humanists to apply GIS and the spatial analytic method in their studies have been limited and halting. The Spatial Humanities aims to re-orient—and perhaps revolutionize—humanities scholarship by critically engaging the technology and specifically directing it to the subject matter of the humanities. To this end, the contributors explore the potential of spatial methods such as text-based geographical analysis, multimedia GIS, animated maps, deep contingency, deep mapping, and the geo-spatial semantic web.


This book proposes the development of spatial humanities that promises to revitalize and redefine scholarship by (re)introducing geographic concepts of space to the humanities. Humanists are fully conversant with space as concept or metaphor—gendered space, the body as space, and racialized space, among numerous other rubrics, are common frames of reference and interpretation in many disciplines—but only recently have scholars revived what had been a dormant interest in the influence of physical or geographical space on human behavior and cultural development. This renewal of interest stems in large measure from the ubiquity of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in contemporary society. From online mapping and personal navigation devices to election night maps colored in red and blue, we are more aware than ever of the power of the map to facilitate commerce, enable knowledge discovery, or make geographic information visual and socially relevant.

GIS lies at the heart of this so-called spatial turn. At its core, GIS is powerful software that uses location to integrate and visualize information. Within a GIS, users can discover relationships that make a complex world more immediately understandable by visually detecting spatial patterns that remain hidden in texts and tables. Maps have served this function for a long time: the classic example occurred in the 1850s when an English doctor, John Snow, mapped an outbreak of cholera and saw how cases clustered in a neighborhood with a well that, unknown to residents, was contaminated. Not only does GIS bring impressive computing power to this task, but it is capable of integrating data from different formats by virtue of their shared geography. This ability has attracted considerable interest from historians, archaeologists, linguists, students of material culture, and others who are interested in place, the dense coil of memory, artifact, and experience that exists in a particular space, as well as in the coincidence and movements of people, goods, and ideas that have occurred across time in spaces large and small. Recent years have witnessed the wide application of GIS to historical and cultural questions: Did the Dust Bowl of the 1920s and 1930 result from over-farming the land or was it primarily the consequence of larger term environmental changes? What influence did the rapidly changing cityscape of London have on literature in Elizabethan England? What is the relationship between rulers and territory in the checkered political landscape of state formation in nineteenth-century Germany? How did spatial networks influence the administrative geography of medieval China? Increasingly, scholars are turning to GIS to provide new perspective on these and other topics that previously have been studied outside of an explicitly spatial framework.

Spatial humanities, especially with a humanities-friendly GIS at its center, can be a tool with revolutionary potential for scholarship, but as such, it faces significant obstacles at the outset. The term humanities GIS sounds like an oxymoron both to humanists and to GIS experts. It links two approaches to knowledge that, at first glance, rest on different epistemological footings. Humanities scholars speak often of conceptual and cognitive mapping, but view geographic mapping, the stock in trade of GIS, as an elementary or primitive approach to complexity at best or environmental determinism at worst. Experts in spatial technologies, conversely, have found it difficult to wrestle slippery humanities notions into software that demands precise locations and closed polygons. At times, applying GIS to the humanities appears only to prove C.P. Snow's now-classic formulation of science and the humanities as two separate worlds.


Introduction
1. Turning toward Place, Space, and Time / Edward L. Ayers
2. The Potential of Spatial Humanities / David J. Bodenhamer
3. Geographic Information Science and Spatial Analysis for the Humanities / Karen K. Kemp
4. Exploiting Time and Space: A Challenge for GIS in the Digital Humanities / Ian Gregory
5. Qualitative GIS and Emergent Semantics / John Corrigan
6. Representations of Space and Place in the Humanities / Gary Lock
7. Mapping Text / May Yuan
8. The Geospatial Semantic Web, Pareto GIS, and the Humanities / Trevor M. Harris, L. Jesse Rouse, and Susan Bergeron
9. GIS, e-Science, and the Humanities Grid / Paul S. Ell
10. Challenges for the Spatial Humanities: Toward a Research Agenda / Trevor M. Harris, John Corrigan, and David J. Bodenhamer
Suggestions for Further Reading
List of Contributors
Index

Sujets

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Date de parution 28 juin 2010
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253013637
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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The Spatial Humanities
SPATIAL HUMANITIES
David J. Bodenhamer, John Corrigan, and Trevor M. Harris, editors
The spatial humanities is a new interdisciplinary f ield resulting from the recent surge of scholarly interest in space. It prospects a ground upon which humanities scholars can collaborate with investigators engaged in scientifi c and quantitatively-oriented research. This spatial turn invites an initiative focused on geographic and conceptual space and is poised to exploit an assortment of technologies, especially in the area of the digital humanities. Framed by perspectives drawn from Geogr aphic Information Science, and attentive to cutting-edge developments in data mini ng, the geo-semantic Web, and the visual display of cultural data, the agenda of the spatial humanities includes the pursuit of theory, methods, case studies, applied technolog y, broad narratives, persuasive strategies, and the bridging of research fields. Th e series is intended to bring the best scholarship in spatial humanities to academic and l ay audiences, in both introductory and advanced forms, and in connection with Web-base d electronic supplements to and extensions of book publication.
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD
Edward L. Ayers, University of Richmond, USA Peter Bol, Harvard University, USA Peter Doorn, DANS, Netherlands I-chun Fan, Academia Sinica, Taiwan Michael Goodchild, University of California-Santa B arbara, USA Yuzuru Isoda, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan Kim Knott, University of Leeds, UK Anne Knowles, Middlebury College, USA Andreas Kunz, Institute of European History (Mainz), Germany Lewis Lancaster, University of California-Berkeley, USA Gary Lock, University of Oxford, UK Barney Warf, Kansas University, USA May Yuan, Oklahoma University, USA
The Spatial Humanities
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, IN 47404-3797 USA
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© 2010 by Indiana University Press All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
 The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992. Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Ûata
The spatial humanities : GIS and the future of humanities scholarship / edited by Ûavid J. Bodenhamer, John Corrigan, and Trevor M. Harris. p. cm. — (Spatial humanities) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-253-35505-8 (cloth : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-253-22217-6 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Geographic information systems—Social aspects. 2. Human geography. 3. Humanities— Social aspects. 4. Humanities—Social aspects—Methodology. 5. Memory—Social aspects. 6. Learning and scholarship—Technological innovations. I. Bodenhamer, Ûavid J. II. Corrigan, John. III. Harris, Trevor. G70.212.S654 2010 001.30285—dc22 2009053214 1 2 3 4 5 15 14 13 12 11 10
Contents
• Introduction
1 Turning toward Place, Space, and Time Edward L. Ayers
2 The Potential of Spatial Humanities David J. Bodenhamer
3 Geographic Information Science and Spatial Analys is for the Humanities Karen K. Kemp
4 Exploiting Time and Space: A Challenge for GIS in the Digital Humanities Ian Gregory
5 Qualitative GIS and Emergent Semantics John Corrigan
6 Representations of Space and Place in the Humanities Gary Lock
7 Mapping Text May Yuan
8 The Geospatial Semantic Web, Pareto GIS, and the Humanities Trevor M. Harris, L. Jesse Rouse, and Susan Bergero n
9 GIS, e-Science, and the Humanities Grid Paul S. Ell
10 Challenges for the Spatial Humanities: Toward a Research Agenda Trevor M. Harris, John Corrigan, and David J. Boden hamer
• Suggestions for Further Reading
• List of Contributors
• Index
Introduction
This book proposes the development of spatial human ities that promises to revitalize and redefine scholarship by (re)introducin6 6eo6rap hic concepts of space to the humanities. Humanists are fully conversant with spa ce as concept or metaphor— 6endered space, the body as space, and racialized s pace, amon6 numerous other rubrics, are common frames of reference and interpr etation in many disciplines—but only recently have scholars revived what had been a dormant interest in the influence of physical or 6eo6raphical space on human behavior and cultural development. This renewal of interest stems in lar6e measure from the ubiquity of Geo6raphic Information Systems (GIS) in contemporary society. From online mappin6 and personal navi6ation devices to election ni6ht maps colored in red and b lue, we are more aware than ever of the power of the map to facilitate commerce, enable knowled6e discovery, or make 6eo6raphic information visual and socially relevant . GIS lies at the heart of this so-called spatial tur n. At its core, GIS is a powerful software that uses location to inte6rate and visual ize information. Within a GIS, users can discover relationships that make a complex worl d more immediately understandable by visually detectin6 spatial patter ns that remain hidden in texts and tables. Maps have served this function for a lon6 t ime: the classic example occurred in the 1850s when an En6lish doctor, John Snow, mapped an outbreak of cholera and saw how cases clustered in a nei6hborhood with a we ll that, unknown to residents, was contaminated. Not only does GIS brin6 impressive co mputin6 power to this task, but it is capable of inte6ratin6 data from different forma ts by virtue of their shared 6eo6raphy. This ability has attracted considerable interest from historians, archaeolo6ists, lin6uists, students of material culture, and others who are in terested in place, the dense coil of memory, artifact, and experience that exists in a p articular space, as well as in the coincidence and movements of people, 6oods, and ide as that have occurred across time in spaces lar6e and small. Recent years have w itnessed the wide application of GIS to historical and cultural questions: did the D ust Bowl of the 1930s result from over-farmin6 the land or was it primarily the consequenc e of lon6 term environmental chan6es? What influence did the rapidly chan6in6 ci tyscape of London have on literature in Elizabethan En6land? What was the rel ationship between rulers and territory in the checkered political landscape of s tate formation in nineteenth-century Germany? How did spatial networks influence the adm inistrative 6eo6raphy of medieval China? Increasin6ly, scholars are turnin6 to GIS to provide new perspective on these and other topics that previously have been studied outside of an explicitly spatial framework. Spatial humanities, especially with a humanities-fr iendly GIS at its center, can be a tool with revolutionary potential for scholarship, but as such, it faces si6nificant obstacles at the outset. The term humanities GIS so unds like an oxymoron both to humanists and to GIS experts. It links two approach es to knowled6e that, at first 6lance, rest on different epistemolo6ical footin6s. Humanities scholars speak often of conceptual and co6nitive mappin6, but view 6eo6raph ic mappin6, the stock in trade of GIS, as an elementary or primitive approach to comp lexity at best or environmental determinism at worst. Experts in spatial technolo6i es, conversely, have found it difficult to wrestle slippery humanities notions into software that demands precise locations and
closed poly6ons. At times, applyin6 GIS to the huma nities appears only to prove C. P. Snow’s now-classic formulation of science and the h umanities as two separate worlds. One of the problems, perhaps the basic problem, is that GIS was not developed for the humanities. It emer6ed first as a tool of the e nvironmental sciences. Oriented initially around points, lines, and poly6ons, it fo und quick acceptance in the corporate world and, with its close cousin, GPS, spawned a ho st of location-based services. Its uptake in the academy was slower, althou6h by the 1 980s it was possible to speak of a “spatial turn,” a re-emer6ence of space and place a s important concepts in the social sciences, driven in lar6e measure by GIS and other spatial technolo6ies. Humanities too experienced a spatial turn—and a temporal turn in the New Historicism—but its spaces and places were metaphorical rather than 6eo 6raphical constructions. Althou6h GIS has 6ained a small foothold in specialty areas such as historical GIS, the technolo6y that drove a social science a6enda for t wo decades had little salience for humanists, who saw scant potential in it for answer in6 the questions that interested them. Si6nificantly, the discipline that provided the hom e for much GIS development and application, 6eo6raphy, found itself divided over t he technolo6y in ways that mimicked the concerns expressed by humanists about quantitat ive methods 6enerally. The central issue was, at heart, epistemolo6ical: GIS p rivile6ed a certain way of knowin6 the world, one that valued authority, definition, a nd certainty over complexity, ambi6uity, multiplicity, and contin6ency, the very thin6s that en6a6ed humanists. From this internal debate, often termed Critical GIS, ca me a new approach, GIS and Society, which sou6ht to reposition GIS as GIScience, embody in6 it with a theoretical framework that it previously lacked. This intellectual restru cturin6 pushed the technolo6y in new directions that were more suitable to the humanitie s. The aim of this book is to seize the momentum 6enerated by the lon6 debate in 6eo6ra phy and use it to advance an even more radical conception of GIS that will reori ent, and perhaps revolutionize, humanities scholarship. The power of GIS for the humanities lies in its abi lity to inte6rate information from a common location, re6ardless of format, and to visua lize the results in combinations of transparent layers on a map of the 6eo6raphy shared by the data. Internet mappin6 has made this concept widely reco6nized and accessible, but this use of GIS only hints at its potential for the humanities. Scholars now have the tools to link quantitative, qualitative, and ima6e data and to view them simult aneously and in relationship with each other in the spaces where they occur. But the technolo6y currently requires that humanists fit their questions, data, and methods to the ri6id parameters of the software, which implicitly are based on positivist assumption s about the world. We seek instead to conceptualize spatial humanities by critically e n6a6in6 the technolo6y and directin6 it to the subject matter of the humanities, takin6 what GIS offers in the way of tools while at the same time ur6in6 new a6endas upon GIS that will shape it for richer collaborative en6a6ements with the humanistic disci plines. It will not be sufficient for the humanities to draw piecemeal from the vocabular y of spatial analysis redolent in GIS or simply to adapt the current state of GIS tec hnolo6y to specific research. Rather, 6enuine advancement of scholarly investi6ation of s pace in the humanities will derive from investi6ators’ successes in effectin6 a profou nd blendin6 of research lan6ua6es and in or6anizin6 sustained collaborative experimen tation with spatially aware interpretation. To date, studies usin6 GIS in historical and cultur al studies have been disparate, application driven, and often tied to the somewhat more obvious use of GIS in census
boundary delineation and map makin6. While not seek in6 to minimize the importance of such work, these studies have rarely addressed t he broader, more fundamental issues that surround the introduction of a spatial technolo6y such as GIS into the humanities. There are core reasons why GIS has foun d early use and ready acceptance in the sciences and social sciences rath er than in the more qualitatively based humanities. The humanities pose far 6reater e pistemolo6ical and ontolo6ical issues that challen6e the technolo6y in a number of ways, from the imprecision and uncertainty of data to concepts of relative space, the use of time as an or6anizin6 principle, and the mutually constitutive relationsh ip between time and space. Essentially, GIS and its related technolo6ies curre ntly allow users to determine a 6eo6raphy of space. In the context of the humanitie s, we seek to move GIS from this more limited quantitative representation of space t o facilitate an understandin6 of place within time and the role that place occupies in hum anities disciplines. Seekin6 to fuse GIS with the humanities is challen6 in6 in the extreme. GIS is a technolo6y that 6enerates 6eometric abstractions of the real world that can be mathematically inte6rated to provide a powerful spa tial analytic system. Such a positivist science sits uncomfortably with the vari ed philosophical and methodolo6ical approaches traditionally pursued in the humanities. The qualitative-based humanities are problematic for a quantitative technolo6y. Quan titative representations of space fit more comfortably with the sciences and social scien ces than they do with qualitatively based humanities. GIS is spatially deterministic an d requires landscapes and societal patterns and processes to be tied to the spatial 6e ometrical primitives of point, line, poly6on, and pixel. The mathematical topolo6y that underpins GIS brin6s its own data representations in the form of raster, vector, and object forms. The attribution of these 6eometric forms lends itself to the classifications of natural resources, infrastructure, demo6raphy, and environmental phenomena rather than to the less well-defined descriptive terms and cate6ories of the humanities. Spatio-temporal GIS, or the ability of GIS to handle space and time concurrently, also remains unresolved, which makes current technolo6y difficult for time-based humanit ies studies. Data and the representations of phenomena, then, are sin6ular fa ctors that challen6e the fusion of GIS with the humanities. Yet the GIS abstractions o f space, nature, and society, while posin6 substantial problems, are particularly relev ant in the humanities where notions and representations of place, rather than those of space, are primary. To this end, GIScientists have made recent advances in spatial m ultimedia, in GIS-enabled Web services, 6eovisualization, cyber 6eo6raphy, explor atory spatial data analysis, and virtual reality that provide capabilities far excee din6 the abilities of GIS on its own. To6ether, these technolo6ies have the potential to revolutionize the role of place in the humanities by movin6 beyond the two-dimensional map to explore dynamic representations and interactive systems that will p rompt an experiential, as well as rational, knowled6e base. This notion of a richer, dynamic, and experiential GIS resonates with the evocative and thick descriptions of place and time that human ists have lon6 favored in their scholarship. Even mappin6 itself comports well with the aims and methods of humanists. Representation of the past, su66ests his torian John Lewis Gaddis, is a kind of mappin6 where the past is a landscape and histor y is the way we fashion it. The metaphor, one consistent with disciplinary traditio ns across the humanities, makes the link between “pattern reco6nition as the primary fo rm of human perception and the fact 1 that all history … draws upon the reco6nition of su ch patterns.” In this sense, mappin6 is not carto6raphic but conceptual. It permits vary in6 levels of detail, not just as a
reflection of scale but also of what is known at th e time. Like the map, history becomes better and more accurate as we continue to accumula te more detail, observe its patterns, and refine our knowled6e. This conception of history may be applied to the hu manities more 6enerally. Humanists, as the term implies, study the human con dition in all its variety. The various disciplines in the humanities have their own tradit ions, of course, but collectively they would a6ree that their aim is to present a reasoned ar6ument about the known past that allows us to learn who we are and what we may becom e as individuals, 6roups, and societies. This inquiry is part of our nature as hu mans, but it comes frau6ht with difficulties. The past, of course, is irretrievable , which is why historians draw a sharp distinction between it and the ar6uments or lessons we derive from it. We understand the past’s value: it is our source of evidence; wit hout it, we would know nothin6 or have any sense of who we are. But the past escapes us as soon as it becomes past. We cannot recapture it; we can only represent it. In r epresentin6 the past, we seek perspective, the point of view that allows us to di scern patterns amon6 the events that have occurred. We are not tryin6 to transmit accumu lated knowled6e—culture and tradition do this, amon6 other means—but to underst and the si6nificance of our experience. In their essence, humanities disciplines seek to 6e neralize from the particular, not for the purpose of findin6 universal laws but rathe r to 6lean insi6hts about cause and effect from a known outcome. Here, the humanities d iffer from much social science, which attempts to reach a 6eneralization that holds true in any similar circumstance. This difference is si6nificant and influences the w ay the two 6roups of scholars create knowled6e. For many social scientists, the search f or trustworthy 6eneralization focuses on the isolation of an independent variable , the cause that has a predictable effect on dependent variables or ones that respond to the stimulus or presence of a catalyst. They believe it is possible to discover s uch a variable, 6iven sufficient resources, because the world is not yet lost to the m. Humanists must contend with fra6mentary evidence and are painfully aware that t he past is incomplete and irretrievable. They also are skeptical of predictio n. The past is fixed, even if its interpretation is not: in it the intersection of pa tterns and sin6ular events can be discovered. Not so in the future, where continuitie s and contin6encies coexist independently of one another. Humanists view realit y as web-like, to use philosopher Michael Oakeshott’s phrase, because they see everyt hin6 as related in some way to everythin6 else. Interdependency is the lin6ua fran ca of the humanities. Humanists seek to portray a world that is lost for the purpose of answerin6 questions that bear on human experience as we perceive it tod ay. The humanities scholar’s 6oal is not to model or replicate the past; a model impl ies the workin6 out of dependent and independent variables for purposes of prediction, w hereas replication su66ests the ability to know the past and its cultural forms mor e completely than most humanists would acknowled6e is possible. Humanists, in a sens e, are abstractionists: they have the capacity for selectivity, simultaneity, and the shiftin6 of scale in pursuit of the fullest possible understandin6 of herita6e and culture. Tra ditionally, humanities scholars have used narrative to construct the portrait that furth ers this objective. Narrative encoura6es the interweavin6 of evidentiary threads and permits the scholar to qualify, hi6hli6ht, or subdue any thread or set of them—to use emphasis, n uance, and other literary devices to achieve the complex construction of past worlds. All of these elements— interdependency, narrative, and nuance, amon6 other s—predispose the humanists to look askance at any method or tool that appears to reduce complex events to simple
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