Post 10 of #GPC@25: (In)Accessibility of reproductive health care in rural Sweden, by Gubb Marit Stigson, Ninni Wallström and Bonnie Dahlström

GPC@25

The tenth post in our series celebrating Gender, Place and Culture turning 25, is authored by, Ninni Wallström, Bonnie Dahlström and Gubb Marit Stigson.The authorial team are all human geographers and activists, who participated in an occupation of a local birthing clinic in Sollefteå, Sweden for three nights in August 2017 in protest against its closure. This post reflects on how access to healthcare for women is constantly at threat in Swedish society where women are still considered to be Others, and need to fight hard to have their rights taken seriously. 

To find out more about how the journal is marking it’s 25th year, you can read Editor Pamela Moss’s post here. Please also follow us on Twitter and Facebook and include the hashtag #GPC@25. If you’d like to contribute to the series, please contact us at gpcat25@gmail.com.

 

In our home country, Sweden, we often complement ourselves for being progressive, gender equal and safe. We have a government that proudly call themselves feminist, claiming to let feminist values characterise all decisions and campaigns run by national politicians. However, in recent decades there has been a gradual dismantling or privatization of public welfare services, especially in rural parts of Sweden. Every fifth emergency health care unit has closed since the beginning of year 2000[1], leaving rural citizens around Sweden with increased travel time, reduced safety and increased insecurity regarding their accessibility to healthcare. This inability to maintain basic health care services in rural areas has happened simultaneously with a general shutdown of service facilities, and urbanization as rural dwellers choose to, or are forced to move to bigger cities in order to find a job or secure better access to public services. Almost exclusively, this dismantling is explained by a strained economy, as the political administrative units that are responsible for public healthcare in Sweden always seem to struggle financially. In order to deal with a struggling economy, decision makers are increasingly turning towards reasoning aligned with masculine rationality[2] in order to “take responsibility” by cutting down on women’s health care.

Evidently, these cuts in the welfare sector do not affect all people equally. A report written by Sveriges Kvinnolobby (Sweden’s Women’s Lobby) shows that since the year 2000, no less than 13 birthing clinics have closed around the country, almost all of them in rural regions, making access to maternal and reproductive healthcare worse for those already poorly served. The report also states that in times of economic crisis, women’s healthcare (healthcare specialised for people with uteruses) is the first to go. This is due to the male norm that historically and presently characterises medical practice and theory, constructing women’s healthcare as a luxury that can be withdrawn when times are rough[3]. Consequently, rural women are especially hit by the dismantling of women’s health care as it predominantly affects the rural parts of the country. Thus, rural women face a two-pronged punishment, both as women and as rural dwellers.

The fight for a “living countryside” is a hot topic in Swedish politics. Recently the government appointed a Landsbygdskommittée (countryside committée) to investigate the cause of the rift between rural and urban, and present suggestions for a prosperous countryside in the future. In the 300 page report, and the 75 concretized suggestions, gender equality is mentioned twice, and never in relation to healthcare services and employment. In fact, throughout the report, accessibility to hospitals and maternal healthcare is not mentioned once. Instead, the main focus is on enabling private business and supporting infrastructure such as post offices and internet access[4]. The neoliberal solution leaves public welfare increasingly dismantled. In turn, the lack of state support in rural healthcare weighs heavier on women’s bodies as hospitals and care centres are workplaces heavily dominated by women[5]. Consequently, women’s ability to access safe employment is also undermined.

However, in the last couple of years there has been a popular rise against the dismantling of services in the Swedish countryside. In the town of Dorotea, activists occupied the local care centre for more than three years before it was reopened, and in Sollefteå, a massive occupation movement started as a reaction to the closing of the local birthing clinic in January 2017[6]. In October 2016, almost 15 000 people marched against the healthcare dismantling in Västernorrland region. In the summer of 2017, we visited Sollefteå to participate in the occupation of the hospital birthing clinic. The closing was a result of budget cuts, and has led to increased travel time for people in delivery, whom are forced to drive on roads in bad condition, with bad cell reception and heavy traffic, to the two remaining birthing clinics in the region, now suffering from overcrowding and lack of staff.

The occupation can be seen as a reaction to the lack of supporting infrastructure that lead to restricted personal freedom for people in Sollefteå. In contrary to the political actions, the resistance mobilised through the occupation, and the placing of vulnerable bodies in a certain space, characterised admitting the vulnerability caused by destructive rural politics, and was an attempt to step out of the binary of vulnerability and resistance. The resistance in Sollefteå also puts a finger directly on the problematic report written by the countryside committée, where a lack of intersectional feminist analysis resulted in suggestions that cemented an oppressive and exploitative system rather than challenging and changing it. Moreover, these actions of protest are relatable to a theory formulated by Judith Butler, Leticia Sabsay and Zeynep Gambetti, saying that there is potential for resistance in admitting vulnerability. The authors argue that there is a feminist action to step out of the binary of vulnerability and resistance, and to rather see the potential of mobilising resistance through vulnerability. This opposes the authoritarian, masculinist resistance to vulnerability as a manifestation of power. Instead, vulnerability is used as a means to demand change and the fulfilment of human rights[7].

However, politicians in the county council of Västernorrland (administrative unit for healthcare services in the area) argue that there was no other option, and instead of admitting their vulnerability in a broken system (rural areas in Sweden produce energy, forestry and food for urban centres, but taxes and profit is sent to the state and does not benefit the local community. Still, rural areas are constructed as “too expensive”, “too inefficient”, and in need of “support”) they try to claim power by dismissing it, and following the rite of passage for a “good politician” in patriarchal capitalism.

A politician in a Sollefteå municipality, My, told us that the counties in Norrland (the north land, 58% of Sweden’s total land area, inhabiting 11-12% of the population) need to ally and manifest their vulnerability in order to claim their rights. As Carina, one of the occupation founders, says: “Healthcare must be allowed to cost money, especially with the distances we have here in Norrland.” (my translation)[8].

Footnotes

[1] SVT (2018) Dokument Inifrån: Den stora sjukhusstriden. Sveriges Television. [Online] https://www.svtplay.se/dokument-inifran-den-stora-sjukhusstriden [Accessed: 2018-05-06]

[2] Plumwood, Val (2001) Environmental Culture – the Ecological Crisis of Reason. Taylor & Francis Ltd

[3] Alm Dahlin, Johanna (2017) Med Rätt att Föda – En granskning av satsningar på förlossningsvården i budgetpropositionen för 2018. Sveriges Kvinnolobby

[4] SOU (2017) För Sveriges landsbygder – en sammanhållen politik för arbete, hållbar tillväxt och välfärd. Statens Offentliga Utredningar. Elanders Sverige AB, Stockholm 2017

[5] SCB (2016) Inom vården finns Sveriges vanligaste yrken. Statistiska Centralbyrån. [Online] https://www.scb.se/hitta-statistik/sverige-i-siffror/utbildning-jobb-och-pengar/sveriges-vanligaste-yrken/ [Accessed: 2018-05-21]

[6] http://www.adalen17.se/

[7] Butler, Judith. Gambetti, Zeynep. Sabsay, Leticia (red.)(2016) Vulnerability in Resistance. Durham: Duke University Press

[8] Carina, personal interview, 2018

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Post 9 of #GPC@25: A defence of fourth wave feminism? by Lucy Clode

GPC@25

The ninth post in our series celebrating Gender, Place and Culture turning 25, is by Lucy Clode. Lucy is a BA Hons Geography Graduate, from Newcastle University, UK and has been awarded the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology scholarship for MA in Human Geography Research (2018-2019)In today’s post Lucy reflects on women’s rights in the neoliberal digital age and the role that feminist geographers of the fourth wave might play in tackling online misogyny. 
To find out more about how the journal is marking it’s 25th year, you can read Editor Pamela Moss’s post here. Please also follow us on Twitter and Facebook and include the hashtag #GPC@25. If you’d like to contribute to the series, please contact us at gpcat25@gmail.com. As Lucy’s post attests, we are delighted to welcome posts from scholars at all stages of their academic careers, including undergraduates.

Since the 2016 US presidential campaign and the inauguration of Donald Trump, the debate around women’s rights and inequalities has rarely left the headlines. The ongoing allegations of sexual misconduct both in governments, and also in the media and film industries shine a light on issues that can no longer be hidden in a rapidly expanding neoliberal digital age.

I am a member of generation Z, a post-millennial, digital native; I cannot remember a world without technology. The internet provides a platform for our interconnected world to flourish. Ideas and innovative concepts can be shared instantly. Unfortunately – and why this matters – is that it is also a space which attracts misogynistic trolls. These people hide behind a keyboard, for example, those who send abuse all over the world by creating memes that reinforce gender stereotypes to maintain the subordination of women. Feminist geographies allow for the online to be seen as a space which can reproduce everyday inequalities and reassert the patriarchy and feminist geographers are well placed to tackle this online misogyny. To date, global movements such as #MeToo (launched originally in 2006), which have opened up an online discussion for victims of sexual violence have not been universally accepted. This critique presents two clear problems: firstly, by accusing #MeToo of ignoring intersectional considerations while secondly, simultaneously dismissing these fourth wave feminists with the more generalised “generation snowflake” commentary; I use this blog to explore these criticisms.

The fourth wave of feminism has evolved from within this technological revolution, and I think that there is merit to the intersectional criticisms. The ironic banner from the Women’s March on Washington holds credence: ‘I’ll see you nice white ladies at the next Black Lives Matters protest, right?’. The first wave of feminism focused on legal issues such as women’s rights to vote. With the second wave came a discussion of reproductive rights and inequalities at work and in families, which are still highly debated issues within the United Kingdom. The third wave allowed a greater insight to how intersectional feminism acknowledges that oppression is not simple but has many layers, such as race and sexual orientation. The fourth wave builds upon this, however due to the growth of social media in the public sphere some women have a more powerful voice than others. The #MeToo movement took the internet by storm and women joined in with Hollywood celebrities to share their stories of everyday sexual harassment and abuse. Women were seemingly more united than ever.

black lives

The emergence of the fourth wave has jumpstarted a conversation which was needed years ago. Yet I still find people in power often dominate the headlines and speak for those who have less of a following or even no access to the online world. The places where the most serious cases of sexual violence in the world occur are, without a doubt, countries of the global south. In 2017 the Independent claimed cities such as New Delhi was one of the worst places to live if you were a woman. However, the majority of the population in India have no access to the internet. There are still many voices in the world who cannot be heard during the fourth wave of feminism. The coming together of women all over India in reaction to the 2012 Delhi gang rape had a more forceful impact on India’s patriarchal culture than #MeToo ever could. The movement might cover the everyday lives of people in the West, but many of those in the Global South can find it hard to relate to the elite of the US who seem to dominate the movement.

The third wave of feminism battled for individualism, but the presence of these online movements seems to group feminist narratives together. All women are put under one hashtag which unconsciously reinforces that women are not individuals but still one stereotype. Germaine Greer, a dominant second wave feminist voice, believes the movement is dishonourable.  Greer’s argument is that the women who have now come out to tell the story of their abuse did not do so when it happened years ago because they took the decision to accept financial incentives and supported the patriarchy in order to stay silent. However, now feminism is seen as trendy in the West and because celebrities are speaking up it is more socially acceptable for the general public to speak too. Society seems to still be following a traditional power hierarchy.

Greer argues that women are now still not allowed to even move on from their abusive experiences with the presence of the movements. They are pressured into reliving and embodying the experiences and if the victims say that they have moved on, online others will convince them that they are in denial. These experiences do not define who these women are, but social media is pressuring them to think that it is something which should consume them. Crucially though, Greer’s critique centres on objecting to the way many young feminists are “doing” feminism. Of Laura Bates’ Everyday Sexism project she commented: ‘Unpacking your heart with bitter words to an anonymous blog is no substitute for action.’

Although the #MeToo movement has limitations it is helping some victims of sexual abuse and misogynistic behaviour to feel less alone. Feminist geography as a discourse allows scholars to deconstruct ongoing power relations within increasingly significant spaces, such as the online world. What 25 years of research into feminist geography has taught me is that an appreciation of the multi-layered nature of oppression and injustice is crucial (intersectional critique) whilst simultaneously, a generational dismissal (snowflake critique) is a wholly un-feminist act.

 

Post 8 of #GPC@25: Doing Feminist Geography With a Toddler, by Alison Alkon

GPC@25The eighth post in our series celebrating Gender, Place and Culture turning 25, is by Alison Alkon. Alison is Associate Professor of Sociology and Department Chair at the University of the Pacific, USA. Her research seeks to understand and advocate for food justice by exploring the ways that racial and economic identities and inequalities affect efforts to create sustainable food systems. In today’s post however, she reflects on how her work experience has altered since the arrival of her young son. This post will resonate with many feminist geographers and social researchers as it raises some of the implications of the specific challenges faced by female academics with care responsibilities.
To find out more about how the journal is marking it’s 25th year, you can read Editor Pamela Moss’s post here. Please also follow us on Twitter and Facebook and include the hashtag #GPC@25. If you’d like to contribute to the series, please contact us at gpcat25@gmail.com.
Feminist writing on the practice of geography, and of social science in general, urges us to do more. We need to build strong relationships with the people whose lives are impacted by the phenomena we study; we need to solicit and incorporate their responses to our findings and our research process; we need not only to write peer reviewed articles, but blogs and other popular work capable of influencing public debates; maintain a twitter presence; seek out the work of underrepresented and junior scholars to reference, even (especially) when it’s not in mainstream journals; we need to mentor underrepresented and first generation students, ensuring that they get the support they need and the recognition they deserve. All of this work is invaluable. It makes us better scholars and teachers, and helps us to create the world we want to live in. But it’s certainly a lot of work.
Feminist geographers with children, particularly those of us who are women, are all too aware of the impossible balancing act that is work-family balance. We work tirelessly at our jobs, navigating the often competing demands of students, administrators, funders, colleagues and the like. Then we come home to what on our best days is quality time with our families and on our worst is a second shift of childcare and housework. And for graduate students or instructors not on the tenure track, or those struggling to navigate the craziness of the academic job market, there are additional financial and time pressures that I have faced in the past, but could not imagine facing with a family. That these conflicts are even more difficult for underrepresented and working-class scholars who are often supporting extending family goes without saying.
Before my son was born, I think I navigated these competing demands pretty well. My dissertation involved community-based research, and because I was lucky enough not to have to move when I graduated (an advantage somewhat mitigated by 5-10 hours per week of commuting), I maintained relationships with the communities I studied. They already knew me, so checking in once in a while, attending a public event, or occasionally reading over a report or grant application was enough to keep me present in their work, and in their lives. From time to time, I asked someone for an interview, and adding updated perspectives to my volumes of data allowed me to extend my insights in a number of directions. I’m at a teaching university, so there was no demand that I begin a new research project before tenure. Thankfully my publications were enough to satisfy my evaluators and received tenure.
Clearing the tenure hurdle, and being awarded a sabbatical, should have given me more time, and renewed energy to pursue my research. But now, toddler in tow, I’m sad to say my community work has been the first to go. I can’t seem to find the time to attend activist events, either because I’m exhausted from a day of teaching and commuting or spending it with my family. And I find myself needing more self care and support from friends just to maintain sanity amidst tasks and toddlers. That takes time too.
At any rate, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to show up for the folks who have so graciously allowed me to document their lives. In my new project, participant-observation has almost wholly been replaced by interviews, as I don’t really participate anymore. And community members and activists who I did not know when I was in graduate school have turned down my requests to get together. From their perspective, I haven’t gotten to know the community. They’re right. As the community I studied has changed, I haven’t kept up. Moreover, as my status has shifted from middle-class but low-income grad student to securely employed professional, the social distance between us has grown. These days, I’m more likely to send in a donation than help to till the soil. Although my work remains critical in nature (I study the ways that inequalities affect local food systems), I wonder if I can still call my practice one of feminist research.
I go back and forth on where to go from here. Sometimes I get angry with myself and make promises to show up at activist events. Often I fail to keep them. Sometimes I try to be ok with my current limitations. I’m fortunate in that my work is often taught in undergraduate and graduate classes, and so from time to time I meet students and activists who have read it and felt it spoke to them. As a white woman who studies race, this praise is particularly satisfying in that it often comes from students of color. I know my work has had an influence beyond the profession, but I wonder if these positive responses to the research I began as a graduate student will be warranted by my current approach. I’m only an early associate professor; I hate believing that my best work is already behind me. My current strategy is to try to write more for popular audiences. I have a piece going through the editorial process at Civil Eats and have been brainstorming and pitching a few more for this and similar sites. I’m even thinking about reviving my long defunct twitter account. I’m not sure that this will satisfy my malaise, but perhaps that isn’t the point. Trying to do a little bit of everything may not be intellectually comfortable, but for me right now, it beats trying to choose. And anyway, my son will someday be in grade school. Maybe things will be different then.

Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography is seeking a new Managing Editor

About the Journal

Gender, Place and Culture, published by Routledge, is a well-established geography journal with an international circulation in its field. The aim of Gender, Place and Culture is to provide a forum for debate in human geography and related disciplines on theoretically-informed research concerned with gender issues. It also seeks to highlight the significance of such research for feminism and women’s studies.

The current Managing Editor is Pamela Moss (Canada) and Editors are Katherine Brickell (UK), Kanchana N. Ruwanpura (UK) and Margaret Walton-Roberts (Canada); we are soon to be joined by a fourth editor Özlem Altan-Olcay (Turkey). The journal publishes 12 issues per year, with manuscripts submitted via ScholarOne (Previously known as Manuscript Central). The journal has an Impact Factor of 1.605 and its rankings in 2016 SSCI Journal Citation Reports are 34/79 (Geography) and 7/41 (Women’s Studies). The 2016 5-year Impact Factor is now 1.856. Please visit www.tandfonline.com/cgpc for additional information about the Journal.

Job Description

We are seeking a Managing Editor to work collaboratively with the existing Editorial Team to extend the success and growth of the journal. The new Managing Editor will work with the Editors, the Editorial Board and the Publisher to coordinate the publication process; overseeing all editorial aspects from submission to final publication. The Managing Editor will be supported in this by the Editors, the Editorial Board and Routledge, the latter in turn co-ordinating the activities of in-house editorial, production, marketing, sales, and distribution staff.

The Managing Editor will demonstrate vision, leadership and creativity, and agree to execute the mission of the Journal through soliciting, commissioning, reviewing and developing articles and other features of the highest quality, and ensuring these are delivered to Routledge to agreed deadlines.

The successful candidate will have a handover period with the current Managing Editor, Pamela Moss, during the last quarter of 2018. Pamela will complete her term formally at the end of 2018, by which time the new Managing Editor will be in place.
The tasks to be undertaken will include but are not be limited to:

  • Day to day manuscript management including: soliciting, receiving and processing manuscripts; desk screening of submissions, identifying and inviting suitable reviewers, ensuring timely reviews and recommendations are received; reading, summarizing and basing judgements about acceptance, rejection or revision on referees’ reports, and communicating this in writing to authors within a reasonable period of time;
  • responsibility for identifying approaches to enhance the quality and reputation of the journal;
  • working with Routledge, the Editors and the Editorial Board to develop the editorial strategy and direction of the Journal and to act as ambassador for the journal;
  • commissioning and promoting special sections;
  • attending conferences relevant to the Journal annually;
  • managing and appointing Editorial Board members in line with the Journal and Routledge’s policies in terms of size, subject specialisms and geographical representation;
  • organising a minimum of one Editorial Board meeting annually, also attended by Routledge.

There is some flexibility in both timeline and the length of the term served. Most Editors serve a three to five year term.

Candidate Specification

Candidates should have a broad knowledge of the field of feminist geography and of women’s and gender studies more generally, with recognised expertise and an established record of scholarship in the area; be open to a wide range of studies submitted by scholars from all world regions; have access to e-mail and internet on an ongoing basis; be tech-knowledgeable and tech-friendly; be prepared to manage a consistent workload over the term served; and have excellent editing skills. Applicants must have strong organizational and managerial skills, an ability and willingness to work collaboratively on editorial tasks and a commitment to the mission of Gender, Place and Culture.

Our preference is for the new Managing Editor to already have experience in editing journals, Special Issues and/or edited books. Candidates will ideally be established in their personal academic career development. Research expertise of the candidate will preferably be in social/cultural geography. In common with the journal’s mission on diversity and representation we would strongly encourage applications from outside of the UK and North America.

Routledge will provide an annual contribution to expenses incurred by the Managing Editor.

Application Procedure

Applications should consist of a letter detailing the candidate’s editorial experience, and their vision and ambitions for the journal, plus a C.V. Nominations of suitable persons are also being solicited.

Closing date for applications is 15 July 2018.

Further information about the activities and responsibilities of the editors can be obtained from Pamela Moss.

Nominations and applications should be e-mailed to Pamela Moss (pamelam@uvic.ca)
and Sarah Bird (Sarah.Bird@tandf.co.uk), under the subject line of “Gender, Place and Culture Editor”.

All applications will be treated as strictly confidential. Routledge and the Editorial Team will judge each on its merits without regard to the race, religion or sex of the candidate.

Post 7 of #GPC@25: What’s in a name? A feminist geography critique of study abroad trends, by Jade Lansing and Rebecca L. Farnum

 

GPC@25

The seventh post in our series celebrating Gender, Place and Culture turning 25, is by Jade Lansing and Rebecca L. Farnum. Jade is a freelance researcher, and former manager of the Moroccan field school discussed in this blog post. Rebecca is a doctoral candidate at King’s College London, where she examines environmental peacebuilding in the Middle East and North Africa. She worked with the field school as a case study in her dissertation. Blog 7 is based on a co-authored article on statecentricism and inequity in study abroad in the International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning and explores how understandings of trends in study abroad schemes can be enhanced by the theories and values underpinning feminist geography.

To find out more about how the journal is marking it’s 25th year, you can read Editor Pamela Moss’s post here. Please also follow us on Twitter and Facebook and include the hashtag #GPC@25. If you’d like to contribute to the series, please contact us at gpcat25@gmail.com.

Study abroad has become a fundamental rite-of-passage in forming conscientious, globally-aware citizens. Stakeholders posit that learning outside of one’s homeland challenges students to think critically, adapt to new environments, and develop vital intercultural communication skills.[1] Embedded within this pitch is the idea that foreign spaces inherently facilitate a new and beneficial way of learning. In a recent article in the International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning, we question this assumption, with particular attention to how the naming and narration of study locales undermines the stated goals of equitable, nuanced intercultural exchange.[2]

A central narrative of feminist geographies calls attention to how the naming of spaces reflects elite, colonial, male, and heteronormative values and boundaries. Katherine McKittrick decries these categorizations as “social landscapes that presume subaltern populations have no relationship to the production of space.”[3] The uncritical use of terminology created by Western hegemonic discourses of ‘the other’ can reify and legitimise imperialist frameworks, further enabling political, social, and economic inequalities. Ideological regimes limit the very possibilities of ideas, categories, and identities, silencing less powerful voices by forcing them into narratives that speak for them without reflecting their realities.[4]

Unfortunately, these namings are the foundation of many study abroad programmes. Most are explicitly advertised as an educational experience of a state – especially in ‘developing’ states. Courses deal broadly with “development in India”, “healthcare in Brazil”, and “tropical agriculture in Sri Lanka”.[5] Students are invited to “study Morocco” rather than discover Marrakech or explore Mediterranean continuities and divergences.

The global study abroad sector thus has a dominant discourse that frames overseas learning in the clear-cut ‘packaging’ of country-based spaces. In the absence of critical reflection on how borders, institutions, and ideas come to be packaged together, this framing reproduces real and imagined realities of the nation-state, presented as externally distinct and internally homogeneous. Building educational curricula around these constructions of space reifies colonial dynamics that undermine local communities’ voices, reinforcing global inequalities and strengthening hegemonic centres of knowledge production.[6] Within programme structures and curricula that narrate their lives and livelihoods for them, host communities are asked to provide the experience of an ‘authentic’ other – becoming caricatures for a narrative drawn by the Oriental fantasies of sending universities.

Amy Allen’s feminist theory of power identifies three forms of relations: power over (domination and control), power to (capacity to cause an outcome), and power with (collective action and solidarity).[7] Applied to study abroad discourse: we can speak over (about ‘the other’), speak to (unilaterally address), or speak with (engage in equitable exchange and honest conversation) people. If study abroad aims to form conscientious global citizens, practitioners should consider planned interactions of ‘speaking with’ (rather than about or to) local communities as critical pedagogical tools. Locally led sessions, facilitated dialogues, and communal meals give stronger voices to host communities and leave lasting impacts on visiting students. Reshaping programme schedules and aims in these ways helps reframe the underlying value systems that define educational experiences abroad.

Like gender theory, education should seek “not the study of what is evident” but “an analysis of how what is evident came to be”.[8] Critical approaches to global education should encourage students to deconstruct narratives of how states and spaces are formed, as well as their own experiences, to examine a dynamic – rather than self-evident – world.

For insight on how a local Ethnographic Field School in Morocco has challenged and engaged with these dynamics, see the aforementioned article. We invite comments and critiques.

Endnotes

[1] See, for example: Association of American Colleges and Universities (2017) ‘Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility’. Online. http://www.aacu.org/SharedFutures/index.cfm (accessed 8 March 2017); Lewin, R., ed. (2009) The Handbook of Practice and Research in Study Abroad: Higher Education and the Quest for Global Citizenship. New York: Routledge.

[2] Lansing, J. and Farnum, R.L. (2017) ‘Statecraft and study abroad: Imagining, narrating and reproducing the state’. International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning, 9 (1): 3–17. DOI 10.18546/IJDEGL9.1.02.

[3] McKittrick, K. (2006), Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. p. 92.

[4] Spivak, G.C. (1988) ‘Can the subaltern speak?’. In Nelson, C. and Grossberg, L. (eds) Marxism and

the Interpretation of Culture. London: Macmillan, 271–313.

[5] Michigan State University (2016). ‘Program Search’. Online. studyabroad.isp.msu.edu/programs/ (accessed 17 November 2016).

[6] Hangen, S. and Sen, R. (2016) ‘Negotiating Time and Space on a Study Abroad Program in South India’. Journal of Cultural Geography 33:1.

[7] Allen, Amy (1998) ‘Rethinking Power’. Hypatia 13 (1): 20-41.

[8] Mikdashi, M. (2012) ‘How Not to Study Gender in the Middle East’. Jadaliyya 21 March. Online. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/4775/how-not-to-study-gender-in-the-middle-east (accessed 8 February 2017).

Author Biographies

Rebecca L. Farnum is a doctoral candidate at King’s College London investigating environmental diplomacy and education in the Middle East and North Africa. After meeting Dar Si Hmad during ethnographic fieldwork, she became a consulting researcher advising on their community-led fog-harvesting project, sustainable development initiatives, and youth empowerment programming. Becca has an LLM in International Law from the University of Edinburgh and an MSc in Water Security and International Development from the University of East Anglia.

Jade Lansing is a freelance researcher, translator, and teacher. She served as Dar Si Hmad’s Ethnographic Field School Manager for two years, helping groups of students and visiting researchers learn about Southwest Morocco’s diversity and environment. She has an MA in Middle East Studies, with concentrations in anthropology and education, from the American University in Cairo and a BA in International Relations from Lewis & Clark College.

 

Post 6 of #GPC@25: Feminist Geography and the 1918 Representation of the People Act, by Dr Francesca Moore

GPC@25Post 6 in our series of blogs celebrating Gender, Place and Culture turning 25 is by Dr Francesca Moore. She is a Lecturer and Director of Studies in Geography at Homerton College, University of Cambridge. She is an historical-political geographer and her research focuses on reproductive politics and women’s political activism. In today’s post, Francesca explores how feminist geographies have enriched understandings of the social and spatial
changes that the 1918 Representation of the People Act created.

To find out more about how the journal is marking it’s 25th year, you can read Editor Pamela Moss’s post here. Please also follow us on Twitter and Facebook and include the hashtag #GPC@25. If you’d like to contribute to the series, please contact us at gpcat25@gmail.com.

2018 is an exciting year. As Gender, Place and Culture celebrates its 25th birthday, we also mark the one hundred year anniversary of some women in the UK being granted voting rights. This was an important moment in women’s history and is being widely celebrated across the UK in 2018. In this blog, I think through the sexual politics of women’s campaign for suffrage and sketch continuities into the present. I also explore how important the work of feminist geographers is in helping us to understand the political, historical and spatial contexts of women’s citizenship and the new sexual politics of our time.

In 1994, Louise Johnson, writing in GPC, defined feminist geography as a discourse on the oppression of women in space (Johnson, 1994). The process of gendered geographical disadvantage has a very long history. For instance, the Victorians had an elaborate cultural imagination about what women should be and how they should behave. Coventry Patmore’s 1854 poem, The Angel in the House described the virtues of woman as a private, innocent and asexual being confined to the home. Such imaginaries indicate that women were thought to be too fragile and delicate for life beyond the home. Elaine Showalter recalls the significance of Virginia Woolf’s sardonic take on the Angel of the House. She observes that Woolf noted Angels should ‘never let anybody guess you have a mind of your own’ (Showalter, 1972). This would, then, rule out entertaining any thoughts of votes for women. All of this amounts to what scholars call the ‘separate spheres’ ideology, a male ideal of how women should behave. This is the notion that women reside in the private sphere of home, family and childrearing and that men belong in the public sphere of politics and commerce. This pervasive norm is a form of cultural discipline and was part of the reason it was difficult for women to get the vote.

Of course, such a designation was hugely problematic not least since the separate spheres ideology simply did not reflect the reality of women’s lives. Scholars have documented that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, vast numbers of working-class women were employed outside the home, thus working a double shift of childrearing and paid employment (Rosenman and Klaver, 2008). Furthermore, Amanda Vickery discovered that the separate spheres did not fit the reality of middle-class women’s lives either (Vickery, 1998). Indeed, one of the most important tenets of feminist geography has been exactly this recuperation of the voices and experiences of women that are so often at odds with patriarchal visions of power. Yet, the separate spheres doctrine has impressive longevity and we still see evidence of it today.

It was not actually until the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 that women achieved the same voting rights as men. The 1918 Act meant only partial enfranchisement for women. Those over 30 years of age who met certain conditions such as property ownership became eligible to vote. In reality, only around 40% of women in the UK were now able to vote and this was heavily skewed in favour of middle-class women. There were many objections to women being given citizenship rights and the road to enfranchisement was long and difficult. In a speech made in Parliament in April 1906, Samuel Evans, Liberal MP for Mid-Glamorgan, noted that women should not be granted the vote, because they ‘had their own honourable position in life, that that position had been accorded to them by nature and that their proper sphere was the home.’ This bio-determinist argument naturalises the patriarchal division of space and placed women squarely in the home. Evans also had some practical concerns about women’s enfranchisement. He was worried about who would do the household chores if women entered politics, arguing that women would be neglecting their homes if they were involved in public life![1]

Feminist geographers have been at the forefront of revealing the ways in which exactly these kinds of gender inequalities have actually persisted long beyond the granting of formal voting rights to women. For example, looking across the GPC archives, we can see that feminist geographers have used the urban as lens to contest the separation between public and private and patriarchal logics of space (McDowell, 1983; Little, Peake and Richardson, 1988; Madigan, Munro and Smith, 1990).

Arguably, the some of the most important work in feminist geography has explored gender and power at the scale of the body. Feminist geographers have challenged essentialist assumptions – like those of Samuel Evans, MP- through materialist readings of the body. We now see the body as both material and discursive, given and enacted (Jacobs and Nash, 2003: 275). Prokkola and Fidanpaa (2015) explored the relationship between the state and the body in the Finnish Border Guard Service. Here they find yet more bio-determinist arguments. They conclude that emotionally-laden ideas about national territory as female body that must be protected by a masculinist guard are based on essentialist and heavily spatial constructions of gender. Women are relegated to domestic roles and the sphere of reproduction, while men occupy the public sphere, for the sake of women (Prokkola and Fidanpaa, 2015: 1377). These essentialised arguments, just like in the nineteenth century, justify the different roles for men and women. These findings are echoed by Basham (2016) in her investigation of the poppy as an act of remembrance. She finds that the poppy can reinstitute war as an activity in which masculinised protectors defend feminised bodies who are in need of protection. Similarly, Herbert (2010)’s investigation of policing in Los Angeles revealed the masculinist culture of law enforcement and the actions of the state, thus once again relegating women to a more private realm. Disturbingly, Herbert (2010) shows how this culture has worked to uphold patriarchy and suppress democracy. What is so important about these analyses is the way in which space, right down to the micro-scale of the body, is read as an active participant in power struggles. Furthermore, when set alongside Victorian and Edwardian logics of gender, and arguments against the enfranchisement of women, these accounts raise questions about what, if anything, has changed in the politics of gender.

So, what challenges do women face in the present that can be seen as analogous to the campaign for women’s suffrage? And how will we study them? To name but a few, in recent times we have seen the continuation of the gender pay gap, the gendered impact of austerity and the post-2017, post-Harvey Weinstein sexual revolution. Sexuality is normatively private thanks in large part to the Victorians, but the #metoo campaign brought previously hidden cultures of sexual misconduct into the public domain. The unprecedented discussion of sexual assault and sexual mores facilitated by social media and the internet has served to highlight questions of sexual citizenship and re-ignite debates about consent and patriarchy. For example, the entrepreneur Cindy Gallop has argued for a revolution in sexual citizenship. Gallop has observed that ‘nobody ever brings us up to behave well in bed.’ She suggests that more openness around sex and what constitutes good sexual values can empower women, protecting them against sexual assault.[2] In January 2017, millions of women took part in marches around the world, using public space as a platform to campaign for abortion rights, equal pay and against harassment. This new vision of women exercising sexual and political power in both public and private spaces is a long way from the Angel in the House.

How can feminist geographers respond to and engage with these new forms of female power and the sexual politics of the next 25 years? The answer lies, I think, in mobilising our historical and political knowledge to critique the present. From Victorian Britain to Finnish border patrol in the present, it is clear that essentialised and largely Victorian representations of womanhood as fragile and powerless have had a depressingly long lifespan. It is also clear that women have been silenced and oppressed sexually, politically and otherwise by ideas that identify them with the private realm. Scholarship across the first 25 years of GPC has also shown us not to oversimplify the category woman and that, importantly, it is fractured by class, race and, sexuality and geography. Given the empirically rich and theoretically-informed nature of work published in GPC in its first 25 years, there is much to look forward to. I foresee the ongoing critique of Victorian power structures that have yet to be fully dismantled. In so doing, we can continue to recover the agency of all women in different social, spatial and historical contexts and break the conceptual stranglehold of Victorian mores about gender, sex and female power.

[1] Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) 4th Series, Vol.155, March 30 to April 25, 1906 , cols 1582-1587

[2] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/work/cindy-gallop-want-to-get-ahead-at-work-its-all-about-sex/ last accessed 04/03/2018

References

Basham, V. (2016) Gender, race, militarism and remembrance: the everyday geopolitics of the poppy, Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 23(6): 883-896

Herbert, S. (2001) ‘Hard Charger’ or ‘Station Queen’? Policing and the Masculinist State, Gender, Place and Culture 8 (1): 55-71

Jacobs, J. and C. Nash (2003) Too little, too much: Cultural feminist geographies, Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 10:3 265-279

Johnson, L. (1994) ‘What future for feminist geography?’ Gender, Place and Culture 1(1): 103-113.

Little, J., Peake, L. and Richardson, P. (1988) Women in Cities: Gender and the Urban Environment (London: Macmillan).

Madigan, R., Munro, M and Smith, S. (1990) Gender and the meaning of home, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 14, 625-64.

McDowell, L. (1983) Towards an understanding of the gender division of urban space, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 16, 59-7.

Prokkola, E. and Rudanpaa, J. (2015) Border guarding and the politics of the body: an examination of the Finnish Border Guard service, Gender, Place and Culture 22 (10): 1374-1390.

Rosenman, E. and Klaver, C. (2008) Other Mothers: Beyond the Maternal Ideal (Ohio: Ohio State University Press)

Showalter, E. (1972) Killing the angel in the house: the autonomy of women writers, The Antioch Review 50 (1): 207-220.

Vickery, A. (1998) The Gentleman’s Daughter (Yale: Yale University Press)

 

Women in Economic Geography Social Hour – April 11 at the AAG

women in economic geography

The second annual Women in Economic Geography Social Hour will take place on Wednesday, April 11th at the AAG Conference in New Orleans, LA. This event will bring together economic geographers who identify as female or outside of the gender binary to support and bring visibility to this community’s contributions to the field. People with diverse interests across economic geography, and at all career stages, are welcomed.

Details:
Wednesday, April 11th from 6:00-8:00pm at The Picayune Social House, a short walk from the conference hotels.
Light refreshments will be provided and drinks will be available for purchase.

This event is being organized by Emily Rosenman (Toronto), Jessa Loomis (Kentucky), Kelly Kay (UCLA), and Renee Tapp (Clark). If you have questions, please email Renee (ctapp@clarku.edu).

 

Guest Post from Lydia Delicado-Moratalla, GPC 2018 New and Emerging Scholar Award Recipient

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to Gender, Place and Culture. Being the recipient of this award means a very important recognition of my work and I feel tremendously honored for it. The impulse I got with the award made me very happy. It has been such a motivation to go on with my projects! The award reinforced my feminist positionality within geography, something that is deeply necessary in the Spanish context where I am trying to survive.

In the past years I have been very interested in the place where gender, race and neocolonialisms intersect. The official statistics in Spain and Europe confirmed the rise of Nigerian women victims of sex-trafficking. Most of the sexual exploitation Nigerian women face is based on street forced-prostitution, which is deeply marginal, violent and dangerous. I started to explore this phenomenon with a number of questions. I was especially interested in unveiling the facts and factors that explained such situation, so I proceed with a feminist geopolitical approach, analyzing the case from the body to the nation, from the past to the present. I ended up discovering that environmental racist-gendered injustice created by neocolonial processes in the Niger Delta, forms a pillar in the reasons why Nigerian Edo women are captivated through the crime networks.

One part of my research was historical. In search of ancient documents related to sexual enslavement of women of Black African origins, I found evidence from diverse historical archives in Spain. The documents gave me information to articulate a historical narrative. I could make connections between ancient and contemporary enslavement and discovered that the Spanish Inquisition was also involved in the prosecution of Black African enslaved females.

Since I was a child, I have always had a strong feeling of the need of social justice. It was the desire to pursue gender, race and class justice what made me create the architecture of my dreams. This award means that dreams come true.

Lydia Delicado-Moratalla
University of Alicante, Spain

 

Post 5 of #GPC@25: Maser’s ‘Repeal the 8th’ mural: street art, abortion access and the battle over public space in Ireland by Lorna O’Hara

GPC@25The fifth post in our series celebrating Gender, Place and Culture turning 25, is by Lorna O’Hara, a feminist activist and final year PhD student at the Department of Geography, Maynooth University (Ireland). Here Lorna explores abortion rights activism and the power of public art in Dublin, Ireland, which forms the focus of her current research.

To find out more about how the journal is marking it’s 25th year, you can read Editor Pamela Moss’s post here. Please also follow us on Twitter and Facebook and include the hashtag #GPC@25. If you’d like to contribute to the series, please contact us at gpcat25@gmail.com.

On the 8th of July 2016 the Repeal the 8th mural by well-known Irish graffiti artist Maser was unveiled on the exterior wall of the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland (image 1). Just over two weeks later the mural, which called for the repeal of the 8th Amendment, a law that equates a grown woman’s life to that of a foetus, had been taken down. The removal was ordered by Dublin City Council Planning, on the grounds that the mural violated planning law. This was also prompted by a number of complaints from “pro-life” supporters that the centre had received regarding the piece  (O’Sullivan, 2016).

Repeal

Image 1: The mural created by Maser on the exterior wall of the Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar, Dublin. (Source: author, 2016)

To me, the mural’s removal was a further slap in the face to the women of Ireland who not only lack full bodily autonomy already, but have also had to endure a number of other hurtful and stigmatising anti-choice messages, including false images of “aborted” foetuses, that have been plastered in a range of public spaces, from bus stops to billboards.  In recent years women have had their senses assaulted by the likes of the Youth Defence’s infamous ‘Abortion Tears Her Life Apart’ outdoor billboard campaign back in 2012, as well as their insensitively placed anti-abortion ad truck in 2013 (see Image 2), which at one point occupied a space just outside the Rape Crisis Centre (Hosford, 2013). Ironically, Cora Sherlock, spokesperson for the anti-choice group Precious Life, in her critique of the mural lamented that there wasn’t “the slightest chance that it [The Project Arts Centre] would have allowed, for example, a mural being placed on its building giving voice to women’s feelings of abortion regret” (quoted in Brophy, 2016). Such a statement is particularly incongruous considering the fact that Youth Defence’s campaign, which has already occupied enough public space in its attempt to conquer hearts and minds was exactly that; an image of a young woman’s “abortion regret”.  

repeal1

Image 2: Youth Defence’s anti-abortion billboard parked outside the National Rape Crisis Centre, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin (source: Broadsheet, 2013)

Of course the removal of the mural did little to silence the Repeal the 8th Campaign. Within a few hours of its removal the hashtag #repealthe8th was trending on Twitter and newsfeeds were filled with tweets expressing indignation at what has been deemed “anti-choice censorship”. For Andrea Horan of The HunReal Issues, the group that originally commissioned the mural, the removal was perhaps more for generating debate and discussion about the campaign. Ultimately the controversy created by the mural not only succeeded in being, what Sarah Pierce, Chair of the Board of the Project Arts Centre described “a reminder that art matters” (quoted in O’Sullivan, 2016) but also a reminder that, as geographer Doreen Massey (2005) argued a long time ago, that space matters too.

Social power and social resistance are always spatial (Cresswell, 1996). The built environment is the materialisation of meaning, meanings that are created by dominant groups in society (ibid). Street art acts as a challenge to the authority of public urban space and serves as “an evocative form of place making, ranging from pure resistance and contestation to public place beautification” (Visconti, 2010: 513). Street art can be a particularly powerful and transgressive tool for challenging the hegemonic male meanings that are typically built into public urban space (see McDowell and Sharp, 1997). Despite the fact that the piece itself was created by a male artist, in a country where women’s bodies have been particularly controlled and regulated by the state — from Magdalene Laundries and symphysiotomies to its current restrictive abortions laws – the mural is a powerful public challenge to the dominant power structures shaping our public urban landscapes at multiple scales. Furthermore, it’s placement outside, rather than inside the gallery, in such a prominent public space in the heart of Dublin is an important part of its power. Indeed, this was exactly the point of the mural according to Horan “I wanted to make feminism accessible, where you didn’t have to be academic to engage […] we wanted to open the issues up to people who aren’t necessarily engaged in politics and currents affairs and to make something they wanted to engage in” (quoted in Fegan, 2016).

repeal2

Image 3:  The mural the day before removal (source: Author, 2016)

The fact that this was the first time that Project Arts had ever received a planning order to remove a piece (O’Sullivan, 2016) speaks volumes about who owns and has control over public space and hence over discourse in Ireland; indeed it would appear that only those who can afford to run big public advertisement campaigns can presume to speak so openly about abortion. While the original mural has been painted over, it has since become one of the most recognisable symbols of the Repeal movement nationally and internationally, appearing online, on T-shirts/bodies, posters and flyers, and projected onto buildings both inside and outside of Dublin. Technology, which has become so embedded in the material space of the city, merging on and offline spaces, has given street art –  which has traditionally been an extremely transient urban art form –a certain degree of permanence. It’s now clearer than ever that painting over this mural was purely a symbolic act, which only ended up adding more fuel to the rapidly growing pro-choice movement in Ireland.

repeal3.png

“Repeal 8th” appears in the windows of the building facing the Project Arts Centre just hours after the mural’s removal (Source: Panti Bliss, 2016)
Works Cited:

Brophy, D (2016) ‘Repeal the 8th’ mural in Temple Bar removed due to planning rules. The Journal [Online] 25 July 2016. Available at: http://www.thejournal.ie/mural-removed-temple-bar-2894027-Jul2016/ (last accessed: 26 July 2016)

Cresswell, T. (1996). In place-out of place: geography, ideology, and transgression. U of Minnesota Press.O’Hara, L (2016)

Fegan, J (2016) Complaints over ‘Repeal the 8th’ art in Temple Bar. Irish Examiner [Online] 19 July 2016. Available at: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/complaints-over-repeal-the-8th-art-in-temple-bar-411022.html (last accessed: 26 July 2016).

Freeman, M (2012) Anti-abortion billboards ‘do not speak for majority of women’. The Journal [Online] 17 June 2012. Available at: http://www.thejournal.ie/abortion-billboards-pro-life-choice-ireland-490249-Jun2012/ (last accessed: 26 July 2016).

Hosford, P (2013) Billboard company discontinues Youth Defence campaign after Rape Crisis Centre incident. The Journal [Online] 25 July 2016. Available at: http://www.thejournal.ie/admobile-company-drops-youth-defence-after-rape-crisis-incident-969637-Jun2013/ (last accessed: 26 July 2016)

Lord, S (2012) Column: This campaign is offensive – and flies in the face of the facts. The Journal [Online] 22 June 2012. Available at: http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/abortion-billboards-youth-defence-pro-choice-495237-Jun2012/ (last accessed: 26 July)

Massey, D (2005) For Space. London: Sage Publications.

McDowell, L., & Sharpe, J. P. (1997). Space, gender, knowledge: Feminist readings. London: Arnold.

O’Hara, L (2016) Street Harassment: Creative Place-based interventions. Unpublished paper presented at: Conference of Irish Geographers. Dublin, 5-7 May 2016.

O’Sullivan, K (2016) Maser Artwork Subject to Planning Permission to Be Taken Down. The Project Arts Centre [Online]. 25 July 2016. Available at: http://projectartscentre.ie/maser-artwork-subject-planning-permission-taken/ (last accessed: 26 July 2016)

Visconti, L. M., Sherry, J. F., Borghini, S., & Anderson, L. (2010). Street art, sweet art? Reclaiming the “public” in public place. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(3), 511-529.

 

GPC 2018 Award for New and Emerging Scholar

The Editors of Gender, Place and Culture are pleased to announce the recipient of the 2018 Award for New and Emerging Scholar – Lydia Delicado-Moratalla. Lydia will be presenting “Theorizing the Prostitution System from Feminist Geopolitics” at the International Geography Union (IGU) Commission on Gender and Geography Conference with the Canadian Women and Geography Study Group (CWAG) to be held in Montréal, Québec, Canada, August 4 to 6, 2018.