Incorporating Third-Person Narrative into Geographical Analysis and Interpretation


Geographical analysis and interpretation have long been dominated by first-person perspectives, where the researcher’s experiences and interpretations are the focus of study. However, there is growing recognition of the value of incorporating third-person narrative into geographical research, with its ability to bring in diverse perspectives and highlight structural and systemic issues.

So, what exactly is meant by third-person narrative in geographical analysis and interpretation? It refers to incorporating accounts and stories from individuals or groups who are not immediately involved in the research, but have a connection to the context or area being studied. This can include local residents, community leaders, or experts in a particular field.

The use of third-person narratives in geographical research allows for a more holistic and nuanced understanding of the issues at hand. By incorporating diverse voices and viewpoints, it challenges the dominant narratives and provides a more inclusive representation of the complexity of places and their histories. It also allows for a deeper exploration of power dynamics and inequalities that may not be evident from a first-person perspective.

One way in which third-person narrative can be incorporated into geographical analysis is through oral history interviews. These interviews involve speaking to individuals who have lived in a particular area for a significant period of time and have valuable insights and stories to share. By incorporating these narratives, the researcher gains a deeper understanding of the social, cultural, and historical context of the place, and how it has changed over time.

For example, while studying the impact of gentrification in a neighborhood, a researcher may conduct oral history interviews with long-time residents to learn about their experiences and perspectives on the changes in their community. This would provide a more nuanced understanding of the effects of gentrification beyond just statistical data and demographics.

Another way to incorporate third-person narrative is through participatory mapping. This involves working with local community members to create maps that reflect their perspectives and experiences of their neighborhood or region. This approach allows for the integration of local knowledge and brings marginalized voices to the forefront in shaping the narrative of a place.

For instance, in a study of food insecurity in a rural community, a researcher may use participatory mapping to understand the local food system from the perspectives of community members. This approach not only provides valuable insights into the issue, but also empowers the community to have a say in how their story is told.

The use of third-person narratives also has the potential to challenge dominant discourses and bring attention to social and environmental injustices. For instance, by incorporating narratives from indigenous communities impacted by resource extraction, a geographical study can highlight the skewed distribution of power and resources in the global economy.

In conclusion, incorporating third-person narratives into geographical analysis and interpretation adds depth and complexity to our understanding of places and issues. It allows for a more inclusive and nuanced representation of the voices and experiences of those who may not have been traditionally included in research. This approach can also help to challenge dominant narratives and bring attention to social and environmental injustices. Therefore, it is crucial for researchers to consider incorporating third-person narrative in their geographical studies in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the world we live in.