Toward a Fourth Generation Critical GIS

Extraordinary Politics


  • Sarah Elwood University of Washington


Digital geographies, critical GIS, thriving, extraordinary politics, liberation


This collection illustrates diverse trajectories of critical GIS praxis that advance social and spatial justice in the current conjuncture. Justice-seeking politics rendered with spatial data and technologies confront social, political, epistemological violences that are frighteningly consistent across time and space, even as their digital and data techniques have shifted. Critical GIS praxes that confront these violences are coalescing a vitally important fourth generation of critical GIS that advances an extraordinary politics of theory and grounded knowledge making that exceeds the limits and legibilities of racial capitalism, settler coloniality, and cis-heteronormativity. This work starts from more deeply intersectional critical race theorizations and from the enduring lessons taught by historically oppressed groups and their creative liberation politics: That making new worlds requires life-sustaining imaginaries and intentional ruptures of an oppressive status quo. I trace how emergent theory and grounded knowledge politics in critical GIS are building with longstanding liberation work by oppressed communities, to create digital spatial politics that code for other possibilities of life, survival and thriving.


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How to Cite

Elwood, S. (2022). Toward a Fourth Generation Critical GIS: Extraordinary Politics. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 21(4), 436–447. Retrieved from



Special Issue - Doing Critical GIS