The collaborative power of conflict: using Public Participatory GIS to resolve conflict over responsibility for marine debris

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University of New Brunswick


Marine debris in the Southwest Bay of Fundy is having negative impacts on the economy, tourism, transportation, safety and wildlife. As much of the problem remains unquantified, remediation efforts must begin by mapping debris types, location, origins, and interactions. The data for such a mapping project, though, must come from stakeholders who are caught up within an environment of blame. Literature suggests that the oppositional interests of stakeholders influence their perceptions of risk. Within the context of a PPGIS process, this research traces how risk perceptions emerge from and interact with mapping processes to produce a contestable document. Utilizing the lenses of critical geography, actor network theory, and relational power, it is argued that by deploying the PPGIS map within the resultant political context a type of conflict is produced that both demands stakeholders’ engagement, while necessitating that they also adopt a more collaborative approach to mitigation.