Critical GPS: Toward a New Politics of Location

  • Amy D. Propen Department of Rhetoric, University of Minnesota
Keywords: critical GIS, critical GPS, GPS technology, Acme-Rent-a-Car, Amsterdam Real-Time Project, social implications, politics of location


This paper aims to extend the purview of critical GIS to also account for what would be akin to a critical GPS by examining two cases where GPS technology is used as a similar means to two decidedly different ends. I look at Acme-Rent-a-Car’s use of GPS technology to track the driving speed of their customers and then fine their customers for speeding, and the Amsterdam Real-Time Project’s recent use of GPS technology to create, for aesthetic purposes, maps of the real-time movements of individual Amsterdam citizens. I examine the social implications of a consenting or nonconsenting subject who is always already locatable. I suggest that the questions raised by each of these two cases are indicative of a social dilemma in GPS, and thus advocate for a critical engagement with GPS technology.
How to Cite
Propen, A. (1). Critical GPS: Toward a New Politics of Location. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 4(1), 131-144. Retrieved from
Special Issue - Critical Cartographies