Do geospatial ontologies perpetuate Indigenous assimilation? Article

Reid, G, Sieber, R. (2020). Do geospatial ontologies perpetuate Indigenous assimilation? . 44(2), 216-234. 10.1177/0309132518824646

cited authors

  • Reid, G; Sieber, R

fiu authors


  • Research on geospatial ontologies focuses on achieving interoperability by creating universal standards applied to data. We argue that universality through ontologies can potentially perpetuate homogenization of concepts, thus contributing to assimilation of Indigenous peoples. We cover the ways the conventional geospatial ontologies enable dichotomies between mental and physical concepts, reduce concepts during the classification process, attribute agency, and privilege ontological class over relationships. We further argue that the geospatial web and natural language processing should be inclusive of Indigenous people to ensure future access to geospatial technologies and to prevent further loss of Indigenous knowledge. We explore alternative approaches to universality such as hermeneutics and heuristics. These offer the potential for Indigenous geospatial ontologies considered as equal, instead of being reduced to fit within western concepts.

publication date

  • April 1, 2020

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 216

end page

  • 234


  • 44


  • 2