On the neo in neogeography

Agnieszka Leszczynski

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47 Citations (Scopus)
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The term neogeography, which designates the proliferation of Web-based geographic information technologies and the parallel opening up of the mapping enterprise to nonexpert cartographers, gained traction in 2006. Implicit in the declaration of neogeography, however, is a trivialization of the geographic discipline. Academic geographers, who have never expressed affinity for the label neogeography, have worked to problematize the instrumentalist reductionism of the discipline to data and technics that such a branding presupposes. But as Wilson and Graham (2013b) recently argued, neogeography—or neo, geography—is as much a statement about newness as it is a commentary about the discipline. Geographers’ emphasis on the geography part of the neo, geography equation, although warranted, has come at the expense of examining the equally important societal implications of the framing of recent spatial information technologies as always-already new. In this article, I foreground the neo in neo, geography and trace the ways in which the ascribed newness of emergent Web-based spatial media is leveraged in discursive-material practices that enact certain kinds of changes in the world. Drawing on illustrative empirical examples, I demonstrate the ways in which newness (1) acts as a discursive device that depoliticizes spatial media so as to lay the groundwork for their social naturalization; (2) is made recourse to as a means by which certain techno-capitalist actors disavow themselves of responsibility for the societal effects of these technologies; and (3) underwrites the model through which the proliferation and thereby profitability of location-based services is sustained.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-79
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number1
Early online date20 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • content analysis
  • discourse
  • geoweb
  • Internet research methods
  • neogeography
  • newness
  • Volunteered Geographic Information


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