Home is where the heart is: using Google Earth and feminist GIS to create residential histories

Authors: Caitlin Buckle*, University of New South Wales
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Cultural Geography
Keywords: feminist methods, feminist GIS, residential mobility, place, home, Google Earth
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Gallier B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Feminist geographical information systems/science (GIS) has been used to provide insight into lived experiences of place and to reveal the power imbalances that affect these experiences (Kwan 2002). Despite the increasing awareness of residential mobility as a lived experience of ‘moving homes’, feminist GIS has not yet been fully utilized in residential mobility research. This paper discusses research that uses feminist GIS to explore the experiences of residentially mobile individuals. International and domestic migrants to Maroochy area, Australia, were interviewed about each of their residential moves over a lifetime. During the interview participants’ movements were visually represented in Google Earth and Google Tour Builder and recorded using screen capture software. The interview and visual recordings were edited and their residential paths were mapped in GIS. The interviews and satellite imagery provided two key benefits; recreating earlier experiences for the participants as they ‘virtually’ explored their past residential locations, and providing spatial and qualitative data for use in GIS software. The immersive experience of the Google Earth visuals and the participants’ descriptions of their movements revealed the subjective and social nature of experiences of residential mobility, beyond the traditional descriptions of labour market forces or economic rationality. This creative method helped the participants to narrate their lived experiences of place and is likely to have applications for research into other forms of mobility.

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