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With the 1980s arrived the so-called “spatial turn” in the humanities, now the prevailing philosophy in many universities. Building on critical theory, scholars such as Barbara Piatti and Robert Tally discuss the possibilities of using maps as a way of deconstructing and re-imagining literature. This essay is the result of a class project in which GIS technology was used to create maps for Karen Tei Yamashita's 1997 novel Tropic of Orange. In her book employing a strong political agenda and a multiethnic cast, an African American street worker named Buzzworm becomes the spokesperson for the disadvantaged people of South LA. One of his main concerns is “gentrification,” a term that remains fairly vague. This essay uses several GIS maps based on US census data to prove Buzzwom's fears of gentrification to be groundless: neither were people forced from their homes, nor did income increase, or the percentage of bachelor's degrees; expectations that usually go along with “gentrification.” This argument is further supported by studies in the field which conclude that the term is very politically charged and should be used with caution. I argue that GIS technology, hailed as the “spatial turn's” new trend, yields also a peril for postmodern scholars: fact-based maps can work in ways that the author presumably did not intend, and, as in the case of Tropic, not only contradicting the initial argument but also exposing logical fallacies and misinformation that tend to become less obvious amidst the political clamor.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
    • Nesbitt 3101

  • Event date
    • 25 March 2016

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Lin