Reconfiguring Administrative Geographies In The United States

  • Francis Harvey Department of Geography, University of Minnesota
Keywords: GIS, GIS technology, geo-spatial technology, administrative geographies, boundary objects, governance, social and political relationships, administrative boundaries


Some of the most significant social, political, ethical, and economic implications of GIS-based technologies show themselves in changing modes of governance. Administrative geographies in the United States, with some peculiarities resulting from their historical development, are analyzed in this paper as boundary objects that loosely organize local practices. Boundary objects bring together technologies, people, institutions, programs, and policies in an infrastructure that simultaneously enables and constrains governance. The introduction of geo-spatial technologies destabilizes the existing local infrastructure, but only temporally. A process of re-stabilization usually follows that involves the modification and creation of boundary objects to fit the changed social and political relationships. This paper looks in particular at the impacts arising from the implementation of geo-spatial technologies in US local governments and conflicts between neighboring governmental bodies. This research suggests that the stability of administrative boundaries helps veil sweeping changes to governance. This paper examines how geo-spatial technologies are intrinsic to these changes in several United States’ local governments. The struggles surrounding the reconfiguration of administrative geographies reflect the growing significance of neo-liberal governance strategies and their use of technologies in the United States.
How to Cite
Harvey, F. (1). Reconfiguring Administrative Geographies In The United States. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 4(1), 57-79. Retrieved from
Special Issue - Critical Cartographies