Geo-Narrative or Geo-Narratives

What is geo-narrative?

Geo-narrative was developed by Kwan and Ding (2008) as a distinctive qualitative GIS approach. It integrates narrative analysis and 3D GIS-based time-geographic methods with originally designed computer-aided qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS). The approach extends current GIS's capabilities for the analysis and interpretation of narrative materials such as oral histories, life histories, and biographies. Its three central elements are:
  • narrative analysis as the qualitative approach;
  • 3D GIS-based time-geographic methods as the representational framework; and
  • a computer-aided qualitative data analysis module implemented in ArcScene.
There are at least three distinct qualitative GIS approaches: (1) geo-ethnography (Matthews et al. 2005); (2) grounded visualization (Knigge and Cope 2006); and (3) geo-narrative (Kwan and Ding 2008). Each of these approaches was developed based upon a corresponding and well-established qualitative method: ethnography, grounded theory, and narrative analysis. The three studies referred to here involve different degree of integration between the analysis of qualitative material and GIS (e.g., geo-narrative has a CAQDAS module developed within an existing GIS).

Closely related works include Kwan (2008) and Bell et al. (2015), both use visual or cartographic means (maps, GIS, and GPS) to generate rich interpretive accounts of people's experiences of certain aspects of the urban environment.


Bell, S.L., C. Phoenix, R. Lovell, and B.W. Wheeler (2015) Using GPS and geo-narratives: a methodological approach for understanding and situating everyday green space encounters. Area 47(1): 88-96.

Knigge, L., and M. Cope (2006) Grounded visualization: Integrating the analysis of qualitative data through grounded theory and visualization. Environment and Planning A 38(11): 2021-2037.

Kwan, M.-P. (2008) From oral histories to visual narratives: Re-presenting the post-September 11 experiences of the Muslim women in the USA. Social and Cultural Geography 9(6): 653-669.

Kwan, M.-P., and G. Ding (2008) Geo-Narrative: Extending geographic information systems for narrative analysis in qualitative and mixed-method research. The Professional Geographer 60(4): 443-465.

Matthews, S.A., J. Detwiler, and L. Burton (2005) Geo-ethnography: Coupling geographic information analysis techniques and ethnographic methods in urban research. Cartographica 40(4): 75-90.

Kwan's Homepage
© 2008-2021 Mei-Po Kwan. All rights reserved.

Last Updated on April 20, 2021.