What Can GIS Do?


  • Nick Lally University of Kentucky




GIS, geographical imagination systems, community geographies, speculative computing, algorithmic governance


This special issue is organized around the deceptively simple question: "what should the doing of critical GIS look like?" Instead of declaring what path critical GIS should take, I instead argue that we do not know what GIS can do. Attending every effort to chart a course for critical GIS, I suggest that we hold a place for doubt and unknowing, acknowledging that the potentials and possibilities of GIS do not preexist practice, but rather, critical GIS emerges in the doing and practice of GIS. Following this argument, I make three main claims in the article. First, I argue that understanding the possibilities for GIS requires being attentive to how particular instantiations of GIS connect with social and material relations. Second, I argue that the doing of critical GIS might use these existing limitations as a starting point for the remaking of GIS. Third, I argue that the doing of critical GIS has an important role to play in understanding how GIS is used within infrastructures of governance. I conclude by suggesting that the doing of critical GIS takes meaningful form through experimentation, openness to the encounter, and linking with existing situated practices and theories.


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How to Cite

Lally, N. (2022). What Can GIS Do?. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 21(4), 337–345. https://doi.org/10.14288/acme.v21i4.1972



Special Issue - Doing Critical GIS