PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (8): 1249-1259.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.08.001

• Theoretical Discussion •     Next Articles

Rebuild place: The thoughts of place in human geography and their connections with GIS

YE Chao(), TA Na   

  1. School of Geographic Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2019-11-17 Revised:2020-04-08 Online:2020-08-28 Published:2020-10-28
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871143);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971200)


Place is a very important geographical concept. Scholars especially geographers have conducted extensive studies on place. Focusing on the issues and theories of place, this article explores how to couple human geography with Geographic Information System (GIS), with a focus on geographic issues in large-scale urban space and small-scale communities. This is particularly critical for geographic study in China. The main title of this article, "rebuild place", has three meanings. First, it is necessary to break disciplinary boundaries in order to rediscover the new field of "place", especially based on complex and changing theories and practice of place. Second, we should strive to change the "place" in everyday life according to the new theories. Last but not least, rebuilding place in our lives or minds will be achieved by means of coupling theories and practice, thoughts and technology, as well as human geography and GIS. Through using volunteered geographic information (VGI), 3D-VQGIS, and other new GIS methods, the theories and methods on place research can be enriched with big data and other types of data. The combination of human geography and GIS not only has practical significance, but also helps developing new methodologies. Place and scale are complex in reality and in research. For instance, issues in community and in city interact and can be transformed because some micro-scale individual or community events can affect the whole city or urban culture. Interactions at city level or community level are the same to some extent but often different. In the study of China's urbanization and rural-urban relations, it is urgent to introduce, use, and recreate the theories on place with GIS and multi-scale cases. In terms of methodology, combining human geography with GIS will reshape geography. In addition to being an indispensable concept of geography, place is also closely related to everyday life. Dealing with the challenges from evolving globalization and information and communication technologies, place is changing, and the concepts on place or placelessness are also evolving correspondingly. It is significant in geographic research and practice to couple human geography with GIS and explore the way to apply the methodology to explain changing issues in the real world with different temporal, spatial, and social scales, so as to rebuild the place theoretically and practically.

Key words: place, scale, coupling, geographic thought, city, community