Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Mapping jhandis in Little Guyana

Authored by: Rupa Pillai

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367367121
eBook ISBN: 9780429351181
Adobe ISBN:


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Geographic Information System, or GIS, is a set of tools that captures, stores, and analyzes spatial information. Through GIS, researchers may move beyond constructing maps of spatial data to pursue spatial analysis to examine the relationship between people and place or to visual change over time. This chapter demonstrates the potentials of GIS to explore the relationship between religion and cities through the mapping of jhandis. As symbols of Caribbean Hinduism, jhandis are triangular flags found in many boroughs in New York City. By mapping jhandis, I illustrate how to design a GIS project that documents the presence of religious and ethnic individuals, particularly Caribbean Hindus and Indo-Caribbeans in Queens. As I highlight the possibilities of GIS for researchers as well as community and religious leaders, I also raise the ethical concerns of publishing maps that document the locations of religious and ethnic communities.

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