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These sections are intended to give the reader a sense of how we did whatwe set out to do, and who it is that did it. The chapter begins with ourpersonal context which includes our personal backgrounds, why we chose tocollaborate, how we came to this particular project, and a discussion of ourown perceived biases. We end the chapter by discussing the process andtheoretical foundation for our ethnography and fieldwork on a general level,and then at specific stages in our fieldwork.
Both of us were drawn a long way to engage in studies at CIIS.Christopher came directly from his undergraduate studies in sociology andanthropology at Carleton College in Minnesota, while Ulrik came from Copenhagenin Denmark with a background in business and economics. After meeting at CIIS,we soon discovered that we were both active in researching how people couldlive more sustainably on the planet, at the brink of a new millennium.Christopher was interested in exploring the development of ecologicallydesigned communities and Ulrik was looking for an inspiring business venturewith a solid foundation in sustainability.
As our academic relationship developed we recognized that we would eitherhave to become activists or find some other means to channel our enthusiasm.The result of this is now represented as our intention to be culturalanthropologists who excavate and unearth the present, as opposed to researcherswho analyze the past. By excavating the present, we hope to unearth some ofthe hidden values, assumptions, and trajectories which may hold the key to ourculture's success or failure toward becoming viable into the deep future, andcontributing to a healthy, sustainable planet.
One of the major questions in our initial decision making phase was, "Howwill we spend this MA thesis?" We knew that there would be a substantial timeand money investment, and we took very seriously the prospect of investing thistime into an area of research in such a way that we would not merely become`hawkers of the exotic,' to use Geertz's phrase, bringing back culturalknowledge and information merely to show off in journals and at anthropologicalconferences. We desired to work on a project that we were passionate about; tooffer our work to further anthropological knowledge, meet our academicrequirements, and also to make a contribution to those who were the focus ofour research.
Through our studies of ecology, anthropology, consciousness, and socialchange, it became more and more apparent for both of us that our interests werefocused cross-disciplinarily on initiatives that attempted to take intoconsideration ecological design, systems thinking, and complex issues relatedto sustainable human habitation. In exploring possibilities for our thesisproject we tried to identify a project or cultural group that was not onlycommitted to a sustainable vision, but also one that had already designed andimplemented a significant dimension of this vision in all parts of theorganization. It became obvious to us that despite much discussion andrhetoric, such projects and groups were still very uncommon.
Thinking back to the inception of this project it seems the origins wereso serendipitous and almost impossible to predict that there must have beenmore involved than just "purely rational" decisions. We were both exploringthe possibility of doing a project concerned with deep systemic change toward amore sustainable society, and we were intentionally seeking a project thatcould serve our common interest, such that the research format itself wouldhave a systemic dimension.
When I (Ulrik) called Paul Hawken, author of Ecology of Commerce, inJanuary 1995, to inquire into progressive companies or projects for researchpossibilities, I did not have many expectations - this was just a shot in thedark. My expectations were further lowered when I was met not by Mr. Hawken'svoice but by that of a woman who was house-sitting his houseboat in Sausalito,California while Hawken was away. However, it turned out that this woman wasan old friend of mine from CIIS, so I asked her what she thought was the mostexciting sustainable business on the West Coast these days - she grew silentafter having mentioned Odwalla, Smith & Hawken and a few others. But thenthe magic moment came that was to transform both Christopher's and my life forthe next year and a half: her voice changed and a very hopeful and excitingquality came across - she told me about a project that had to do withtransforming a combination of recycled plastic and biomass into a woodsubstitute. That was all she knew; no name, no phone number.
When I think of the brief moment that existed for possible connection withthis particular project, I get the image of a lonely feather passing in the fardistance. Only for a brief moment in my entire lifetime would I have been ableto register this feather, and when I did, I reached out immediately, andgrabbed it. Why this feather had such a charge, I don't know. For both of usthis fieldwork experience has been a spiritual journey where we have constantlyasked for guidance and trusted the journey and its teachings even in the mostobscure moments. The journey was more about listening to the many guidingvoices underway rather than just doing what we wanted to do. An importantquestion for both of us has always been; what are we supposed to do and learnin each situation?
After finally tracking down the architect-artist-entrepreneur by phone in Los Angeles we had a series of exciting conversationsfollowed by a personal meeting in San Francisco. We became quite interested inexploring Alan's main project that involved GIS and the sovereignty movement ofHawai`i. It was through this project and connection with Alan that we wereintroduced to a Hawaiian vision of a 100% sustainable government and thepotential of a GIS-based information model serving as a foundation piece in thedevelopment of this vision. This project was appealing to us because it wasdaring, comprehensive in scope, and represented a potential evolution of GIS asit attempted to incorporate knowledge of the indigenous people of Hawai`i withthis powerful information technology, toward developing a new sustainablymanaged, locally based economy. The original seed was buried in both of ourintentions to seek a field site that encompassed a systemic approach towardcreating a more sustainable society.
Seeking to work with the indigenous people of Hawai`i in the context ofcreating sustainable life regions reveals a bias to be aware of in this study.Through our studies we have become familiar with indigenous practices from allover the world. It seems to us that those cultures who have lived in closerelation with the land over many generations possess a place-specific, groundedknowledge base that will be invaluable to the creation of new systems ofdesign, planning and management we need today in order to live in more balancewith natural forces and resources. What we in the West today label as a newfield of integrated resource management has for centuries been a way of lifefor many indigenous people around the world. We are aware of the tendency inWestern society to romanticize native peoples. We are also aware of thetendency to obliterate these native cultures because they are seen as"backwards" or "in the way of progress." In light of these perspectives wefeel it is appropriate to proceed with an appropriate degree of respect andcuriosity, yet with a critical attitude in pursuit of a clearer understandingof the lessons that various specific native peoples have gained in their oftenmany, many years of survival on the planet.
This work with the Nation of Hawai`i has led to another bias; that of anew way of perceiving the State of Hawai`i. Following U.S. Public Law 103-150,in which the United States government publicly acknowledged the illegality ofits overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, several legal experts and U.S.government officials have commented both publicly and privately, that this lawessentially creates the way for full restitution of the Kingdom of Hawai`i, andthat in terms of the law, the State of Hawai`i is null and void. Of courseother commentators and officials deny this, but nevertheless - practical ornot, realistic or not, our experience in Hawai`i has definitely left us verysympathetic to the positions of the Nation of Hawai`i, which will be describedthroughout the paper.
As we are excited about the many implications of the revitalization ofNative Hawaiian knowledge in a modern context, so we are also fascinated by thesocial implications of this new information technology, and what it could meanto Hawai`i and Hawaiian's at this turbulent and important time. Through ourpreliminary study, we feel that it promises to be a tool that can support abroadly based empowerment of the people of Hawai`i toward the attainment of agreater degree of self-determination; and that it can just as easily foster theconsolidation of state power, and the perpetuation of the status quo in unequalland distribution, various patterns of exploitation, etc. The mixed enthusiasmand caution we feel for this resource is based on the perceived potentials andlimitations we describe in our paper. The excitement we share for thistechnology is grounded in the fact that the affordability of the technology hasreached a level where now not only specialized agencies but also commoncitizens and small progressive community and ecological groups are able toaccess and utilize this resource: the potential consequences of thisaccessibility and applicability could have many implications for foundationalchange efforts in our society. However, the potentials for misuse and forfurther empowerment of the powerful make us highly critical toward all claimsaround GIS: we know we have our work cut out for us in holding the many sidesand perspectives on these issues simultaneously.
Yet another obvious bias that informs our work is our commitment to thebioregional perspective. This focus is based on our interest in how we asindividuals, groups and whole societies can live not on the Earth but with andin the Earth. This bias reflects our ecological commitment to be an integralpart of the place we inhabit; (to be in ecological integrity), a tenet whichessentially is at the core of the bioregional perspective.
Our underlying agenda in exploring the subject of maps is not just toexpose the power dynamics, inadequacies and tragedies of the history ofmapping, or to merely explore the latent transformative possibilities inphysical and computerized mapping. We are intent on playing a role inanswering the question, "What maps do we want to see, to guide us into the 21stcentury?" This is truly uncharted territory, but one that beckons forexploration, promising many surprises and potential benefits.
Our desire to make this research available to the native Hawaiian people,especially the Nation of Hawai`i, reflects an intention to point to some of theissues and pitfalls in engaging in an endeavor such as GIS. We want to humblyacknowledge that we are foreigners to the islands of Hawai`i and are only verysuperficially aware of the context and issues involved here, and therefore willmake mistakes and wrong assumptions which will translate as ignorance. May oursuggestions and findings been seen in this light, for only then can we continueto develop our sincerity and awareness of subtle and pervasive colonialattitudes which we may hold, consciously and unconsciously.
We also acknowledge that the historical dimensions of our discussion ofthe evolution of maps, and the social critique of GIS, are Eurocentricallybiased. Time and resource limitations have limited our ability to researchother non-European perspectives of map evolution: we hope that other studentsresearch and relate the many other perspectives and dimensions that existwithin this area.
There are many methodologies that have been, and could be, effectivelyused to explore the subject of information systems. According to Avison andMeyers (1995), these include conceptual study, mathematical modeling,laboratory experiment, field experiment, surveys, case studies, futuresresearch, phenomenological research/hermeneutics, ethnography, longitudinalstudy, and action research. (Avison and Meyers, 1995: 46) We support theirrecommendation of a methodologically pluralist approach toward betterunderstanding of information systems in general, though due to our backgroundin cultural anthropology, this project is grounded specifically in qualitativeresearch, emphasizing the ethnographic method.
Qualitative research is a particular research tradition in social sciencemost often associated with sociology, cultural anthropology and politicalscience. However, as Harvey and Meyers (1995) point out, there are manyqualitative techniques, ranging from "anything that does not directly deal withnumbers to the most in-depth and self-reflective interpretive techniques."(Harvey and Meyers, 1995: 17) Our research was conducted through ethnographicfieldwork among several communities in their own social contexts, rather than,for example, as a purely statistical investigation without interaction betweenthe researcher and the researched. It is through this fieldwork that wegathered information about the groups, cultures, and culture areas beingexplored.
Our training has led us to the view that the central work of theethnographer in fieldwork is to become immersed within the culture in such away as to develop an "insider's" perspective to some degree. This generallymeans taking on the role of participant observer, a role "instrumental tounderstanding and accurately describing situations and behaviors ... incontrast to a priori assumptions about how systems work from a simple, linear,logical perspective - which might be completely off target." (Fetterman, 1989:30) We have in our coursework explored the relationship of the "insider's"(emic) perspective to that of the outside (etic) critical observer'sperspective, and argue that it is essential to neither become a 'blank slate'or 'sponge' for culture, maximizing empathy and "going native;" nor is itnecessary to enter fieldwork full of theories and hypotheses to test,maintaining a distance from the culture in order to preserve one's"objectivity" and critical reflection. Keeping a reflective distancefrom the culture being studied may allow the careful consideration of theethnographer's impact and 'situatedness,' though he/she runs the risk ofmissing important cultural understandings; however the presumption that one can"go native" may ignore the impact of ethnographic observation andinterpretation on the culture being studied. Avison and Meyers (1995) invokeKahn on this subject, who "argues for a reflexive anthropology where it isrecognized that the interpretation of culture(s) 'is in fact part of a processof construction' and says that anthropologists themselves 'are similarly partof a broader socio-historical process.'" (Avison and Meyers, 1995: 51). Harveyand Meyers (1995) further explore this subject,
Ethnographers of the holistic school, in their attempt to "go native" andunderstand other cultures "in their own terms," in effect deny the glossing ofthose views by the interpretive act of the analyst. The end result istantamount to a recourse to objectivity due to a taking for granted of the needfor the critical analysis of the dialectics of the interpretive process. Therole of the observer is treated as context-free, ignoring the fact that everyinterpretive exploration leads to a new understanding, thus rendering historyas the most vital attribute of ethnographic analysis, the history of thematerial and the history of the interpretation. (Harvey and Meyers, 1995: 21)
We agree with Harvey and Meyers that it is essential to consider ourimpact on the cultures we study, and to acknowledge our situatedness in theassumptions of our "home culture," in the new cultural context, and (beinganthropologists trained in the U.S.) as part of a broader socio-historicalprocess. Raising the issue of complex biases and subtle values is perhaps lessproblematic for a detached observer or an 'armchair anthropologist' who may notbe challenged by their impact during the immersion of fieldwork. An importantquestion in our work has been: how can we immerse ourselves in and learn aboutanother culture while being subject to many assumptions and biases of our owncultures? Is the answer to presume to suspend our biases and conditioning?Harvey and Meyers (1995) argue that "rather, the ethnographer is encouraged tobecome critically aware of them, making them explicit in the process oflearning about cultural differences" (Harvey and Meyers, 1995: 21).
Faithorn (1992) has written on these challenges of the participantobserver experience, and the dangers of extreme detachment on the one hand, andof "going native," on the other. Faithorn suggests an approach that goesbeyond this apparent dualism:
I have come to the conclusion that the whole question on going native or not is based on an outmoded dualistic perspective in research. We live in a world of multiple cultural realities. This not only provides the larger context of our experience but actually lives inside of us. The challenge to the ethnographer, in my opinion, is threefold: first, to become increasingly aware that many cultural realities actually do exist; second, to become familiar with these different realities - as many as possible - learning to hold them simultaneously and non-hierarchically in one's consciousness; and third, to develop a capacity to integrate these multiple views in order to take effective action in the world. (Faithorn, 1992: 25)
To summarize our perspective, we suggest that participant observation isthe art of engaging and participating in an unfamiliar context with a freshmind and open attitude, acknowledging our impact on the culture we are workingwith, and holding several emic and etic perspectives at the same time.Spradley (1980) elaborates that the participant observer
will have to maintain a dual purpose: you will have to seek to participate andto watch yourself and others at the same time. Make yourself explicitly awareof things that others take for granted. It will be important to take mentalpictures with a wide-angle lens, looking beyond your immediate focus ofactivity. You will experience the feeling of being both an insider and anoutsider simultaneously. (Spradley, 1980: 58)
In the research methodology of our project we are applying what Faithorncalls a "transcultural perspective." This approach recognizes and celebratesthe particularities of cultural diversity while also exploring shared aspectsof the human experience. The transcultural relates to the new anthropologicalunderstanding of culture at the end of the 20th century, that has evolved "froma static view ... to one which is more dynamic and emergent" (Avison andMeyers, 1995: 51).
It is clear ... that anthropology as a discipline has long since moved away from Benedict's ... view of culture [as objects in a museum]. Even though there is much disagreement and debate within the discipline, contemporary anthropologists no longer see cultures as something that can be collected and recorded like rocks on the sea shore. Rather, culture is seen as contestable, temporal and emergent, it is constantly interpreted and reinterpreted, and is produced and reproduced in social relations. (Avison and Meyers, 1995: 52)
This more fluid and complex understanding of culture has been essential innegotiating the diverse cultural realities that we encountered, from anentrepreneurial culture within the mega-diverse context of L.A., to the radicalsovereignty struggle of the Nation of Hawai`i which includes Hawaiians andnon-Hawaiians, to the varied culture of GIS users around Oahu. In thesecontexts, our ethnographic training was most definitely put to the test.
We are dividing the methodological description of our research processinto three sections, all marking a significant and distinct part of the fieldwork experience. Each section gives a brief context and focus of a certainperiod and then describes how we have worked methodologically to carry out ourresearch.
April 1, 1995 - July 10, 1995
San Francisco Bay Area, California
During this first phase we refined our thesis proposal and learned moreabout the project and the field of GIS. Since Alan, who we were to accompanyto Hawai`i, was not yet quite ready to leave we stayed on in the Bay Area forseveral months. In this period we had the opportunity to do library researchat UC Berkeley, phone research on local GIS initiatives, and begin initiallayer research for the GIS model in Hawai`i.
We also met at length with Alan, who came to the Bay Area for businessmeetings. Our discussions gave us further knowledge about his proposedinitiatives on Hawai`i and we were confirmed in our deep connection with Alanand the vision that he represented, both through himself and his closeassociation with the Hawaiian people. We then went to Alan's home in LosAngeles for what was to be a one to two week layover before leaving forHawai`i.
July 10, 1995 - February 10, 1996
Santa Monica, Los Angeles Basin, California
As we approached the basin of Los Angeles from the air, we first noticedthe seemingly endless stream of airplanes descending and ascending in and outof dull haze, while the terrain below reminded us more of a computer circuitboard than any natural ecosystem. In fact, even amazingly close to landing itwas hard to perceive any "green patches" larger than the size of a postagestamp, on the largest "circuit board" either of us had ever seen.
Upon entering Alan's office/apartment, we were impressed by the assemblyof more paper, project plans, sketches, and books in a two-bedroom apartmentthan either one of us could recall ever having experienced in one place. Itlooked like an underground command center, as a friend of ours commented aftervisiting. We learned in time that these papers were not just an archive ofinteresting information, but rather records and plans of sustainable projectsof many kinds from all around the world, each serving a purpose in a largersystem of planning, in which the GIS initiative was one part.
Our project leader had worked with the Nation of Hawai`ifor about 4 years, first loosely connected as a consultant on technology andthen in the official title as Minister of Systems and Technology. Alan'sbackground as a systems designer, inventor and architect came from UCLA wherehe graduated in Architecture in 1992. He is currently in his early thirtiesand possesses an unusual combination of experiences from the computer graphicsindustry, architecture and urban planning, as well as studies in musiccomposition and industrial engineering. After graduating, he started his ownenvironmentally oriented architecture company. Since then his combined officeand home in Santa Monica has served as the base for several companies, and theseed for numerous projects and patented inventions.
As often happens in fieldwork, the most significant challenges,opportunities, and learning experiences come unannounced and usually in themost unexpected ways. This phase of our fieldwork turned out to be a majorsurprise for us, as what was supposed to be a short layover in LA turned out totake half of year. This delay was related to another unexpected event when 15FBI agents showed up on August 3, 1995 in the Honolulu airport to arrest Dennis"Bumpy" Kanahele, a close personal friend of Alan's and the leader of one theprimary sovereignty movements on Hawai`i, the Nation of Hawai`i.
"Bumpy," as we came to call him, was jailed for "harboring a tax evader,"in an incident that happened almost two years earlier. The Nation declaredBumpy a political prisoner, claiming that the United States had no jurisdictionover him - a sovereign citizen of the independent Nation of Hawai`i, and thatthe charges in any case were trumped up to derail a rapidly growing movementfor self-determination.
We were deeply affected by this event, and what ensued in August for uswas a blur of uncertainties, outrage, and concentrated work to get the story toa wider audience, as it was basically ignored outside of Hawai`i where itreceived front page headlines nearly every day. From Los Angeles, we attemptedto mobilize media awareness on the mainland through writing, research, andgeneral publishing and documentation of Bumpy's case, as well as throughgeneral research in the UCLA law library. While we were not actually inHawai`i, this period came to be the beginning of our direct engagement with theNation of Hawai`i, and appropriately enough, our first experience of "theNation" in action was through information technology - receiving faxes orelectronic mail of demonstrations, press releases, or press articles fromHawai`i, and checking the Nation's World Wide Web page for the latestinformation.
This sudden development was also a real learning experience for us, as wecame to see how effectively the IT (information technology) of the Nationactually worked in high intensity situations like this. It was alsofascinating to both of us to experience how this technology allowed us to keepup with current trial updates, how we could help publish documents on the Webpage, and how we could keep each other constantly updated through e-mail.
These events, including the need to secure the investments necessary forimplementing the GIS, redirected our focus. We had been unaware that theeconomic foundation of the project was as uncertain as was the case. The factthat the planned investments had not been secured was the beginning of a seriesof events that confirmed that we were no longer on a predictable academicschedule: we were now in the field. We turned our attention to supportingAlan's attempts to finance what seemed to be a solid investment opportunity atMau'i's supercomputer center, which appeared to provide a strong hardware andlogistical base for the Nation of Hawai`i's GIS initiative. We also used thistime to gather several layers of cultural and other information, contextualizedamidst the backdrop of a next generation GIS model.
At that point we were not sure how our study would develop. We chose tomove with the life of the project which in this case meant staying on in L.A.and supporting the investment initiatives there. At this point, anotherprospect also came into the picture. We were being offered an opportunity towork in this company as soon as it would get off the ground and establishitself on Maui. It was both a flattering and exciting prospect that influencedus to become immersed more deeply in the project. But we were now also caughtin somewhat of a conflict of interest because we were losing our ability to becritical observers. In retrospect we can see how we "lost" or gave up our"anthropological eye", after having been in L.A. for a month and a half. Weliterally "went native." However, this new position also helped us to gain aunique perspective of an important phase of the Nation's GIS project, and alsoto look at the project from the perspective of developers and investors, whichadded a very concrete and valuable grounding to our overall research.
During our stay in LA we had the opportunity to visit several largeconventions relating to the focus areas of our research. The largest and mostfascinating was SIGGRAPH, which showcased the latest in the field of computergraphics, with all the major companies in attendance, as well as many newcomersand start-ups. Other conventions were related to teleconferencing and theInternet.
In December, due to yet more unexpected challenges and uncertainties,funding had still not come through, and we decided to redirect our attentionback to the thesis, to see how we could be most useful to the project as awhole, and to keep to our original intention of completing this researchtogether, as a team. We decided that we would move on to Hawai`i in thebeginning of the New Year to complete our fieldwork so we could graduate byJune 1996, half a year late in relation to our original plan.
At this point, we began an intense period of library research at UCLA'sspecial map library. It was here we acquired a large body of material onmapping in general, but more specifically on GIS and its social implications.Much of the material we acquired came from the library but also from asignificant new source for us - the World Wide Web (WWW). In addition, throughthe Web we made personal contacts with people we later had the opportunity tocontact and interview, both over the phone and through e-mail. In the lastmonth in Los Angeles, we were especially focused on indigenous peoples' use ofGIS, and exploring this subject, we conducted between 15 and 20 telephoneinterviews with people around the mainland of the U.S., and in Hawai`i andCanada.
February 10, 1996 - June 1996
In mid-February of 1996 we flew to Oahu. We arrived on a hot sunny day,and were met by a haole (non-Hawaiian) man named John, who drove us about 45minutes out of the city, over the mountains from Honolulu to the windward side,and into a mountain-enclosed, lush green valley. For all the talk aboutcooperation, peacefulness, sustainability, and tolerance of this sovereigntymovement and its adherents, we were still two haole guys walking into a villageof native Hawaiians. We had no idea what to expect.
What we found were very friendly people - about fifteen families who livedin small houses along a road that wound up a cleared hill into a forest. Thiswas the village of Pu`uhonua o Waimanalo established by members of thesovereignty group, Nation of Hawai`i. We moved into the main office which wasvacant since Bumpy's arrest, set up our computers, files, books, and modem, andbegan our research in earnest. At the evening community dinners, we met andinteracted with the village's residents.
For the first few weeks, we buried ourselves in local newspapers and bookson Hawai`i, sought out people to talk to, watched the local news, went forwalks and generally attempted to increase our knowledge about the cultural,political, and historical context of the Hawaiian land and people. Weestablished rapport in the village by being useful however we could; helpingpeople print documents on our printer, playing with the children, working inthe lo'i (an ancient taro garden being restored by the villagers),cleaning up after dinner one night a week, and helping with odds and ends jobs.We were warmly received and while we tried to be helpful, we also tried not tobe too intrusive either.
We arrived at a relative lull in political activity; Bumpy's trial wasover for the time being, but he was not at the village: he was released fromprison on the condition that he did not return to the village. Several of theprimary people involved with the day to day work of the Nation had gone home torepair their stressed family lives, impacted by the extreme demands of thetrial. We got the feeling of being in a place following a battle - very quietand even peaceful, but with tell-tale signs of intense activity still visibleto the wary. There were also tell-tale signs of surveillance - militaryhelicopters rumbled overhead regularly, and the villagers told us that they hadbeen `surveilled' and `intimidated' by the helicopters since Bumpy's arrest,though it occurred less frequent recently.
Still, the relatively peaceful village of Pu'uhonua o Waimanalo allowed usto begin to decouple from the intensity of L.A. and our work with the GISinitiative, to reflect on what we had learned and to gather resources andinformation which could help us to better understand, assess, and furtherassist the Nation's GIS initiative.
We began soon after our arrival to collect information about the local GIScontext of Hawai`i. In the following six weeks we had interviews with a broadcategory of GIS users from the State of Hawai`i and City of Honolulugovernments, such as the Office of State Planning, the Department of Land andNatural Resources, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Department of HawaiianHomelands, and the Office of Environmental Quality Control. We also met withThe Nature Conservancy, a community GIS initiative, University of Hawai`iprofessors and students, and Bishop Museum GIS experts. Other potentiallyinfluential and relevant informants we have not talked to include the military,further GIS people within the Department of Land and Natural Resources, theDepartment of Fish and Wildlife, the United States Geological Survey, othersovereignty groups, and probably still others.
While engaged in these interviews, we were simultaneously doingparticipant observation with the Nation of Hawai`i, with whom we were able tolearn more about progressive uses of information technology. In addition, weparticipated in several public meetings, demonstrations, and classes at theUniversity of Hawai`i, all related to environmental issues andself-determination in Hawai`i.
While we have been in Hawai`i we have worked with the University ofHawai`i's libraries and professional staff to gain a better understanding ofmany issues related to our research. Professor Jon Goss, especially,introduced us early on to illuminating material relating to the latest researchon GIS and its social consequences, which in many ways informed our thesis withmany fresh observations and considerations.
Through it all, we attempted to integrate our experiences from LosAngeles. With a little distance both in time and space from this intenseexperience we began to become aware of the more subtle assumptions andworldviews informing the technological entrepreneurial culture in which we hadbeen participating. Here in Hawai`i we began reexamining the rich material wehad gathered from UCLA, which expanded our conceptual understanding of mappingand GIS. Also, importantly, we became more acutely aware of the socialimplications of GIS, the larger context of indigenous peoples' use of GIS, andthe social construction of maps.
After our intense data-gathering period we began reformulating the thesiswith the benefit of provocative literature, interviews, and many new insights.We were inspired and already felt changed by the many new perspectives we hadconsidered since we left Los Angeles. We were honored to have been given useof the village's guest cabin, with its incredible view of Waimanalo Bay and thehigh green Pali mountains, and which gave us the space to focus uninterruptedattention to the integration and description of our experiences and newperspectives.
One fundamental commitment of engaged anthropology involves beingresponsible to the many groups and individuals we have worked with in thefield. We have made our best efforts to respectfully honor the integrity ofour informants and the complex perspectives of the many who have contributedtheir thoughts and stories to the creation of this thesis, and we are gratefulfor the cooperation, generosity, and respect that we have been shown almostwithout exception in Hawai`i. Happily, in our brief experience, the "alohaspirit" of Hawai`i is not a myth or a dream of the past, but is still alive inthis beautiful place.
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