Interview with Dr. Kelsey Hanrahan, Recipient of a 2017 New and Emerging Scholars Award

In 2007, the editorial team introduced the Gender, Place and Culture annual award for new and emerging scholars with funds supplied by Taylor & Francis. We are excited to share an interview with Dr. Kelsey Hanrahan, one of the 2017 recipients of this award. Thank you, Kelsey, for responding to our questions!

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Dr. Kelsey Hanrahan (right) sitting next to a woman who she shares a grandmother-granddaugther relationship with. The photograph was taken during her dissertation research in Ghana in 2013.

Where do you see your work drawing on or fitting into feminist geography?

I was first drawn into feminist geographies because of the way these geographies work to understand everyday experiences. Similarly with feminist ethics of care, I was drawn into the body of work by its roots, where feminist scholars sought to understand the ways in which people made ethical decisions based not on abstract universalist principles but on the factors that they were facing in their everyday lives.

A project I am currently working on—part of the research I did in northern Ghana for my dissertation—draws on feminist considerations of the body and work in feminist gerontology. I consider how changing physical abilities associated with ageing result in shifts within interpersonal relationships and how, in a community where love is demonstrated in everyday acts of labour, significant emotional challenges accompany ageing. Ageing and later life have been relegated to a marginal position in geography for decades, and even within the growing areas of geographies of age, later life receives significantly less attention. Current conversations in feminist and related geographies of the body, love and emotions are one intersection in which we can contribute to both geographies of age and feminist geographies with our understandings of the experiences of women in later life. While my work so far is specifically contextualized within a rural agrarian setting in Ghana, the experiences of the women I worked with challenge us to remained attuned to how bodies—even those who may have lived much of their lives fitting normative expectations—are subject to displacement both physical and emotional.

What are your current projects?

I see my work as contributing to an ongoing project that is working to better understand care. I have drawn on feminist geographies and feminist ethics of care to work towards shifting my own ontological foundation towards recognizing our fundamental connectedness and therefore the central forces of our interdependencies. Recognizing and working from a place of connectedness, for me, requires me to continually check myself as the dominant discourses of individuality—and the power of individual experiences and narratives in shaping our understandings—work to give the perception that this connectedness is in opposition to individuality and independence.

While I continue to work with my dissertation research data, I am also developing my next research project that will build on these questions of care and intergenerationality and consider the construction of care for Ghana’s older residents. The project will contribute by developing an understanding of how care policy and practice are constructed in a region committed to health development and to understand the ways in which these initiatives may be failing to attend to the needs of an ageing population. I aim to understand how individuals and communities identify care-related needs and in turn legitimize access to care to particular bodies and give shape to the spaces in which people try to access care.

What do you see in your future?

This coming fall I start the first year of a tenure-track position at Towson University in Maryland, USA, after spending this past year as a visiting professor in the same department. I’ve enjoyed engaging students in my courses, particularly geographies of Africa and geographies of health & care, where students are challenged to recognize and explore alternative perspectives. I’m also excited about contributing new courses to the program—qualitative research methods, as well as feminist geographies. I think these courses will contribute an important facet to our students’ program, adding breadth to their skill set and supporting to prepare them to work in their communities in ways that are both respectful and creatively critical.

What do enjoy most about the work you do?

Looking at everyday life requires that we ask a lot of the people we work with. The work I conducted in Ghana considered everyday experiences of work and care from the starting point of personal relationships. The women with whom I worked brought me into deeply personal spaces of their experiences. They shared with me not only material and physical facets of their lives, but emotional dimensions of their position within intergenerational relationships and everyday strategies. Their openness to me, and to the work I was doing, provided me with a rich and textured understanding of their everyday lives. This has contributed to my ability to explore care in ways that both respect the specific context I am considering and present elements that connect across space. I love working on intergenerational relationships and care—in large part because of the reactions of others when I discuss my work. The themes and stories I tell almost invariably evoke empathic reactions, despite talking across significant physical and cultural distances. People recognize pieces of their lives in the work I present and in turn share with me their own experiences of care and intergenerational relationships.

Recipients of the 2017 Award for New and Emerging Scholars

The Editors for Gender, Place and Culture are very pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Annual Award for New and Emerging Scholars.

Kelsey Hanrahan, Towson University
Beth Wangari Kamunge, University of Sheffield

Dr. Kelsey Hanrahan will be presenting her work at the Emotional Geographies Conference in Long Beach, California, in June of this year. Her paper, entitled “The work of love when you can no longer work: Older women’s emotional experiences of dependency in northern Ghana,” is based on her dissertation work completed in 2015.

Beth Wangari Kamunge will be presenting her work at the Royal Society of Geographers with the IBG in London, United Kingdome, in August of this year. Her paper, entitled “The kitchen as a safe feminist space for marginalized knowledges?”, is part of her ongoing research for her doctoral dissertation.

We would encourage those who are attending these conferences to attend these presentations and celebrate their accomplishments together.

Volume 24, Issue 1 is now available

We are excited to announce that the first issue of the year is now available online. This issue includes Dr. Sharlene Mollett’s article, which was presented at last year’s Jan Monk Distinguished Lecture, a themed section on ‘Sexual and Gender Minorities in Disaster’, three book reviews, and articles covering a diversity of subjects including “crazy cat ladies”. Enjoy!

Gender, Place and Culture Jan Monk Distinguished Annual Lecture:

Irreconcilable differences? A postcolonial intersectional reading of gender, development and HumanRights in Latin America
Sharlene Mollett

Themed Section – Sexual and Gender Minorities and Disasters:

Sexual and gender minorities in disaster
J. C. Gaillard, Andrew Gorman-Murray & Maureen Fordham

We’ve seen the future, and it’s very diverse: beyond gender and disaster in West Hollywood, California
Ben Wisner, Greg Berger & JC Gaillard

Problems and possibilities on the margins: LGBT experiences in the 2011 Queensland floods
Andrew Gorman-Murray, Sally Morris, Jessica Keppel, Scott McKinnon & Dale Dominey-Howes

Remembering an epidemic during a disaster: memories of HIV/AIDS, gay male identities and the experience of recent disasters in Australia and New Zealand
Scott McKinnon, Andrew Gorman-Murray & Dale Dominey-Howes

Segregation, exclusion and LGBT people in disaster impacted areas: experiences from the Higashinihon DaiShinsai (Great East-Japan Disaster)
Azusa Yamashita, Christopher Gomez & Kelly Dombroski

Articles:

Work–life balance of professional women in rural Spain
Mireia Baylina, Maria Dolors Garcia-Ramon, Ana María Porto, Maria Rodó-de-Zárate, Isabel Salamaña & Montserrat Villarino

Discreet to excrete in the concrete jungle: women bike messengers and their inventive urban strategies in three US cities
Jane M. Ferguson

Food practices, gendered intimacy and family life in contemporary Guangzhou
Chen Liu

Women on the move: theorising the geographies of domestic violence journeys in England
Janet C. Bowstead

Queer ecologies of home: heteronormativity, speciesism, and the strange intimacies of crazy cat ladies
Will McKeithen

The pariah femininity hierarchy: comparing white women’s body hair and fat stigmas in the United States
Helana Darwin

Book Reviews:

Contesting intersex: the dubious diagnosis
Cecile Ann Lawrence

New desires, new selves: sex, love, and piety among Turkish youth
Madhu Narayanan

The spirit of revolution: beyond the dead ends of man
Olivia R. Williams

Gender, Place and Culture welcomes new editor Dr Katherine Brickell

Dearest readers, today we are excited to introduce you to our new editor, Dr Katherine Brickell, who has kindly shared the guest blog post below.

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I am very honoured to become an editor of Gender, Place and Culture. I first started reading the journal during my undergraduate studies in the early 2000s when I took Ann Varley’s course at University College London (UCL) on gender and geography. I haven’t stopped reading it ever since! I hope that my contribution to the journal will continue to inspire other feminist geography scholars-in-the-making.

I am a social, political and development geographer based in the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London since 2008. My current research agenda supported by a Philip Leverhulme Prize (2017-2019) is focused on the development of ‘feminist legal geographies’. Through a related monograph and article co-writing with Dana Cuomo, I hope not only to raise the profile of feminist legal geographies in critical social geography but also to further the penetration of feminist spatial thought into legal scholarship. My monograph is currently in preparation for the Wiley RGS-IBG Series entitled Home SOS: Gender, Violence and Law in Cambodia. It focuses on two ‘SOS’ calls, domestic violence and forced eviction, and explores the agency and futility of law in women’s lives as a means of redressing these injustices.

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The book builds on research I led between 2012-2015 which took a multi-stakeholder approach to the study of law as a leverage mechanism to address domestic violence in Cambodia. The study showed the structural constraints that need to be overcome to enable women’s access to justice (see the infographic project report here). This research will be published as a background paper in UNWOMEN’s flagship report (2018) Progress of the World’s Women. Participatory video workshops with rural and urban communities in Cambodia formed one component of the research and built on experience of similar workshops in Vietnam. My paper entitled “Participatory video drama research in transitional Vietnam: post-production narratives on marriage, parenting and social evils” was published by Gender, Place and Culture in 2014.

I am current Chair of the RGS-IBG Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group.

Further information about my work can be found here and via updates on Twitter.