APPLIED GIS IN ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH


Geographic Information Systems and Science (GEO 565)

An Annotated Bibliography for Professor Dawn Wright

Winter 2010

Jason Pittman, Ed. M.

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My developing research interest is the application of Geographic Information Science (GIS) to Spatial Ethnography and Demography, especially as it pertains to Christian mission strategy by non-governmental, not-for-profit organizations. The practical questions that I am most interested in addressing deal with the strategic mobilization of people and resources to meet identified global needs such as relief and development, clean water and to minimize ills such as human trafficking, slavery, and hunger. Consideration was given to articles addressing the following curiosities: historical perspective; methods of field data collection, categorization, and cataloging; information sharing, standards, and collaboration amongst agencies; privacy, confidentiality, and security concerns; and practical applications. The following annotated bibliography is an attempt to survey the professional and academic peer-reviewed journal literature to assess and appreciate the magnificent complexity of the task of understanding the world's peoples, languages, and cultures.

I am currently enrolled the Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science at Oregon State University.



Schienke, Erich W. "Who's Mapping the Mappers?: Ethnographic Research in the Production of Digital Cartography." March 2002. [Document]

Schienke has the big picture of GIS development in mind. His research is to understand the thought processes that shape how a GIS is constructed, developed and used. He examines potential motivations and highlights the value of GIS as an interface for various entities that may not see themselves as equal partners in decision making and resource stewardship. Next, he explores the nuances of teaching and learning in relationship to GIS, concluding that it is necessary to teach general and learn specific (because of the variation in application of GIS). Last, Schienke, through interviews with practitioners seeks to evaluate in 'real-time' where decisions are actually being made about GIS use.This article was valuable in that it helped me to appreciate the nuances of GIS design as it relates to both the technician and the end user. I thought more carefully about the reasons people are choosing to learn GIS (i.e. as an analytical tool for problem solving or more career oriented Information Technology). I appreciated his historical background on the shift from cartography (map as picture) to a Geographic Information System (map as model).


Detwiler, Jim. "Development of a Custom GIS Application for Viewing Ethnographic Data." ESRI User Conference Presentation. 12 August 2004. [Document]

Detwiler examines the use of GIS as an ethnographic analysis tool on a sociological study in low-income neighborhoods. The study explored the health and wellness of children and their primary caregiver(s) for a number of variables. Confidentiality considerations were addressed and efforts made to conceal the identity of participants in the study. The paper identifies and describes a multitude of data layers, their sources, and how that data was used in the study. This study helped me to see how GIS can be used at a very local level to assess patterns and behaviors of people and how that relates to general health and wellness. I gained an appreciation for some of the tools available through the Welfare Project extension in ArcMap. One of the most significant findings reported in this article is the value and usefulness of combining GIS professionals with less proficient experts in other areas to maximize potential applications and analysis.


"Pinpointing the Languages of the World with GIS." GIS Best Practices in Social Science (Reprinted from the Spring 2006 issue of ArcNews magazine) 9-13. Redlands, CA: Environmental Systems Research Institute. July 2009. [Document]

Ethnologue is a catalog of the world's nearly 7000 languages. In its 15th publication, it has been produced with GIS generated color maps for the first time. The Language Mapping Project is the name for the geographic database. It is formed by a collaboration with SIL International (language experts responsible for data maintenance) and Global Mapping International (GIS experts responsible for the technical maintenance). Data outputs from this project are available to the GIS community free of charge. When seeking to understand the peoples of the world, perhaps the most significant place to begin is with language.


Rowland, Ron. "Assessing the Peoples and Languages of the World." International Journal of Frontier Missions 11:4 (1994): 211-214. [Document]

This is an older article, but like Schienke, Rowland takes the time to delineate the thought process behind the development of an early GIS called the People's Information Network (PIN). Rowland assesses the PIN looking at 5 key features of database construction: Identification (Who?), Information (What?), Location (Where?), Destination (When?) and Transformation (Why?). The author defines terms, explains how data is classified, categorized, and registered, processes the rationale for such selection, shared difficulties with defining categories, identifies a large number of partnering agencies working collaboratively with a common goal, and the purpose for stated goal. This article provided additional background and historical information useful to understanding where the movement has come from and where it is going.


Wedepohl, Pierre. "Mapping and Missions Research in Africa: Thinking Out of the Box." Proceedings of the 5th International Lausanne Researchers' Conference. Geelong, Australia. 8-12 April 2008. [Document]

Wedepohl chronicles the development of cartography and GIS as an applied science in Africa as well as the value and implications for mission mapping in the region. He cites several examples of mapping research being conducted at local, national, and continental levels. The Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) has organized to be a catalyst to the church in Africa by establishing mission initiatives and providing support to accomplish those initiatives. The utilization of GIS mapping technologies is one such endeavor and he describes several entities tasked with working in this arena. As Wedepohl identifies future challenges for mapping, I was struck by the difficult cultural barriers and perceptions, the value of training indigenous researchers, and the need for self-sufficiency in the arena of finances. This document is a source of great encouragement in the practical ways that GIS and mapping research is being used to further the mission of the church.


Bonk, Jonathan J. "World Christian information: public freeway or private toll road?" International Bulletin of Missionary Research 34.1 (2010): 1+. [Document]

The 2010 Edinburgh World Missionary Conference served as an expose of the latest releases in reference tools, notably the Atlas of Global Christianity, the World Christian Database, and the World Religion Database. This short report addresses important questions around data accessibility and whether data should be available open source or at a nominal fee? This is an increasingly relevant issue that individual entities and larger consortiums will need to address, especially those organizations operating in countries where funds are limited. A great deal of the research on global missions is being conducted and compiled by countries with significant wealth resources.


Jaffarian, Michael. The Computer Revolution and Its Impact on Evangelical Mission Research and Strategy. International Bulletin of Missionary Research 33:1 (2009): 33-37. [Document]

In this article, Jaffarian chronicles a surprisingly detailed summary of how computers revolutionized the way in which mission data was collected, archived, retrieved, accessed, and utilized. He identifies a number of prominent engineer/missionaries who gave shape to various research entities, including ESRI and its famous ArcView. The church has been a catalyst in the development of technological advance throughout history and it is no different today. This article provided a thread through history that provided much needed perspective. Jaffarian mentions most of the leading organizations utilizing GIS as a primary platform for display of their database information. In conclusion, Jaffarian brings up some significant points about what computers did to reorient people and reinvigorate enthusiasm for missions. It has swung wide the doors for more technically minded people to get involved in meaningful ways, it improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the effort, it has forced the church to look more carefully at the things which distinguish people and the things which people hold in common, and it has helped the church to be more wholistic in its approach to evangelism. In this article, I was surprised to learn that the first computer-generated, information bearing map ever produced from the PC platform was the result of mission research on Guatemala!


Matthews, Stephen A., James E. Detwiler, and Linda M. Burton. "Geo-ethnography: Coupling Geographic Information Analysis Techniques with Ethnographic Methods in Urban Research." Cartographica 40.4 (2005): 75-90. [Document]

This article is significant to my research because of its analysis of how GIS and ethnographic information care coupled together. The primary goal of the research team is to look at the welfare system in regards to the application and methodology of GIS technology. The authors do an excellent job of presenting a number of real life situations where the use of GIS helped to create a context of the situation, rather than just looking at the content. These additional looks into the situation, by utilizing ethnographic, school, census, property, crime, family, and road data simultaneously, helped the researchers to understand this issue at a deeper level and from a different perspective. When looking at social issues, use of a GIS adds a significant spatial element to the many life circumstances that face people. The information gathered in this study will go to neighborhood development models, public transportation models, and community health models. The principles and ideas generated from this study have been useful to my understanding of data structures, data collection, data sharing, and the multi-variable approach to addressing system human issues.


Matthews, Stephen A. GIS and Spatial Demography. GIS Resource Document 03-63 (GIS-RD-03-63). The Pennsylvania State University. October 2003. [Document]

Matthews brings light to bear on the use of GIS in demographic studies and analysis. He identifies how various public entities have written spatial demography into their organizational goals. Matthews cites a number of studies in the 1990's for which GIS would introduce increased potential for understanding because it allows for multilevel modeling and ability to better discern the context of the studies. Matthews indentifies how GIS is being used as a demographic analysis tool in poverty, urban segregation, labor market research, environmental justice, health inequality, crime analysis, and population distribution. Despite the potential contained within GIS technology, at this time of this article, Matthews was surprised by the relatively small number of demographic scientists who had embraced its use. I am curious how GIS use has changed in the field of spatial demography now 7 years later.


Newlin-Lukowicz, L., & Parker, D. "LL-MAP - A Tool for Mapping Sociolinguistic Variation." New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV) 37. Rice University. 6-9 November 2008. [Document]

The researchers presented this paper at conference and introduced the LL-MAP, a web-based sociolinguistic mapping tool capable of providing accessible, timely, comprehensive, customizable maps of linguistic and other ancillary data. The map annotation project is an effort to organize the enormous amount of sociolinguistic data into a flexible array of interactive data which will alter the way in which linguistic atlases are generated. This web-based, interactive tool allows the user to select variables of interest from a variety of data sets and create overlays to better visualize data. This unique approach enables to user to participate in 'self-directed' research.


"New Features and Resources at the ARDA." Review of Religious Research 49.3 (2008): 348. [Document]

This is not a technical journal article, but rather a bullet-point list of ways in which the Association of Religion Data Archives is utilizing GIS to map the social, economic, demographic and religious landscape scene in the United States.


Brennan-Horley, Chris; Luckman, Susan; Gibson, Chris; and Willoughby-Smith , Julie. "GIS, Ethnography, and Cultural Research: Putting Maps Back into Ethnographic Mapping" The Information Society: An International Journal 26.2 (2010): 92 - 103. [Document]

Adjali, Iqbal and Appleby, Stephen. "The Multifractal Structure of the Human Population Distribution."Modeling Scale in Geographical Information Science. Eds. Tate, Nicholas and Atkinson, Peter M. West Sussex, England. John Wiley and Sons. (2001). 68-85. [Document]

Buzzetto-More, Nicole A. "Navigating the Virtual Forest: How Networked Digital Technologies can Foster Transgeographic Learning. (Report)."Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology 3 (2006): 103+. [Document]

"Understanding Migration, Language Use, and Ancestry in Catholic Parishes Using Geographic Information System." Review of Religious Research 51.2 (2009): 220-221. [Document]

Cool, B. & Parker, D. "Computational Approaches to Mapping and Visualizing Language Data." Proceedings of the 5th Midwest Computational Linguistics Colloquium. Michigan State University. 10-11 May 2008. [Document]

Aristar-Dry, H., Aristar, A., Cool, B., Lahrman, M., Newlin-Lukowicz, L. Parker, D., & Thompson, J. "LL-MAP: Language and Location - A Map Annotation Project." Colloquium on Geography and GIS in Language Documentation. University of Hawai'i. 12-14 March 2009. [Document]

Kinney, Nancy T., and William E. Winter. "Places of Worship and Neighborhood Stability." Journal of Urban Affairs 28.4 (2006): 335-352. [Document]

"Understanding Migration, Language Use, and Ancestry in Catholic Parishes Using Geographic Information System." Review of Religious Research 51.2 (2009): 220-221. [Document]

Roberts, Tom. "A Place that Breaks the Poverty Cycle." National Catholic Reporter 46.1 (2009): 17. [Document]

Wei, Luo, et al. "Geographic Patterns of Zhuang (Tai) Kinship Terms in Guangxi and Border Areas: a GIS Analysis of Language and Culture Change."Social & Cultural Geography 8.4 (2007): 575-596. [Document]

Lyew-Ayee, Jr., Parris, "Going Beyond the Physical Community" July-September 2006. [Document]

Rynkiewich, Michael A. "Corporate Metaphors and Strategic Thinking: 'The 10/40 Window in the American Evangelical Worldview," Missiology 35:2(2007), 224. [Document]

Veselinova, Ljuba Nikolova, and J. C. Booza. "Studying the Multilingual City: a GIS-based Approach."Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development 30.2 (2009): 145-165. [Document]


Further Exploration of GIS Applications
ethnologue.jpg

Caleb Resources
Joshua Project
Operation World
WorldMap
Gapminder
Mission InfoBank
People Groups
Ethnologue
4K
Global Mapping International
MisLinks
World Language Mapping System
Global Ministry Mapping System
NOVA Researche Centre



Copyright © Jason Pittman, 2010