Aline Gubrium, Krista Harper, and Marty Otañez Introduction
This chapter explores the issues of situated knowledge, lay expertise, and spatial literacy in participatory geographic research. It presents the context of broader debates among critical geographers around issues of situated knowledge and the politics of geospatial data. The chapter begins with the author's experience with Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles (NKLA), a web-based mapping project that leveraged local knowledge of neighborhood conditions into social justice mobilizations in California. The challenges faced in sustaining participatory geographic information systems (PGIS) projects at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) relate to issues raised by critical geographers regarding the history and politics of geospatial knowledge: issues the author's faced as they studied accessible space and universal design. It concludes by linking the politics of the PGIS project to the cultural significance of the exponential growth in "volunteered geographic information", or geospatial data collected through smartphones and other personal devices.