In todays post, Beth W. Kamunge tells us a bit about her research and future plans. Beth is a 3rd year doctoral researcher at The University of Sheffield’s (UK) department of Geography. As one of our new and emerging scholar award winners she also gives potential future applicants some advice about submitting for the award in future!
A bit about Beth’s research
The original contribution to knowledge that my research project offers, is the empirical and embodied exploration of black women’s food experiences, which have so far been relatively ignored by feminist scholars. At the beginning of my project I was curious as to what new insights black women’s food-related experiences could provide to contemporary debates in food politics. I spent a year having food-based dialogues with 12 self-identifying black women in Sheffield (UK). These dialogues included shopping for food together mostly in City Council markets, street and farmer’s markets, and independent grocery stores; sessions of cooking together lasting between 3 to 7 hours at a go; sharing meals; and hanging out at allotments for participants who grew their own food. In the end I found that there was a lot to be gained in how we think about ‘local’ food as a pathway to social justice; the devaluation of food knowledges; and kitchens as alternative spaces for knowledge production. Studying food is by definition an interdisciplinary project. Whilst I have drawn upon and contributed to feminist geographies of food, I have also brought in work from Black-Feminisms, Philosophy, Sociology, Politics and Literature.
I am at the point of my PhD where I am not thinking too far beyond just finishing it! I have on the whole quite enjoyed doing it and I am looking forward to seeing what my thesis looks like at the end. Beyond that point, I would like to have an academic career, still around Black-Feminist food politics. I would be particularly keen to focus in on one of my PhD chapters and construct a research project around it. I have been heavily involved in the Critical Race and Ethnicities Network (CREN) in the last 3 years. We have held symposiums, workshops and two conferences. Currently we are doing a 3-part Black-Feminisms seminar series (May, June, and July 2017) to mark the end of CREN. But I would be interested in carrying out anti-racist feminist activisms in different iterations throughout my academic career.
Advice for future applicants to the New and Emerging Scholar Award
I think it’s been really helpful for me to think about academic work as being at various stages of being ‘unfinished’. I was having a conversation with Dr Derrais Carter (Assistant Professor, Portland State University) where I said there was something I hadn’t applied for, because I didn’t feel ‘ready’. And their response was “the ellipses of our work is always implied”. That’s something I found really helpful in dealing with perfectionist tendencies. Also, at the beginning of 2017 I read an article (via Twitter) of a writer who made it their goal to receive 100 rejections. To be honest it did sound extremely bizarre (who wants to get rejected 100 times!), but after reading it, it made a lot of sense. Their logic was that to get 100 rejections, means they have submitted their work at least 100 times rather than being too afraid to try. The piece had resonance because it was about not waiting to do that one ‘perfect’ application, but sending out 100 ‘good-enough’ applications and seeing what happens. In the end they say they got to 47 rejections, but with I think 6 big acceptances including a prestigious fellowship, book contract and so on that made it all worth it. So that’s how I made my intention for 2017 to be the year to “submit” my work even when I don’t think it’s ‘perfect’. So far, I have submitted 10 things, 3 of which were rejections (and 1 of which had really good constructive feedback that I was quite pleased with) but 7 acceptances including 3 awards that I wouldn’t have gone for otherwise. So, I guess it works! Just go ahead and submit.
On that note, I would like to thank Gender Place and Culture for the award and the opportunity to present my research at the upcoming RGS-IBG conference in London (August 2017).
Volume 24, Issue 2 is now available online. This issue includes a viewpoint by Ann Bartos about food politics, two book reviews, and articles covering a range of fascinating topics that are advancing feminist geographies. Enjoy!
Ann E. Bartos
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!
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.
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.
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
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 Dai–Shinsai (Great East-Japan Disaster)
Azusa Yamashita, Christopher Gomez & Kelly Dombroski
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
Contesting intersex: the dubious diagnosis
Cecile Ann Lawrence
The spirit of revolution: beyond the dead ends of man
Olivia R. Williams
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.
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.
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.
Feminist Geographers Speak Out!
We are seeking papers that talk about the generative spaces brought forward by the Women’s March. These spaces are to bring out the positive aspects of solidarity that lie alongside the restrictive aspects of the US state administration. We are interested in the experiences of feminist geographers as they make sense of the growing reactions to the people who are popularly taking up space in the discussions about policy. We see the Women’s March as the embodiment of the voices that need to be heard. We are interested in inclusion – voices, bodies, viewpoints – and intersectionality – identity, relationships, spatialities.
What has the Women’s March unleashed? What resistance is happening? What are the possibilities? We have received inquiries about these emergent spaces on campuses, in parks, on the streets, in classrooms, and as a globalizing phenomenon. We have also been part of email exchanges, Skype calls, and meetings over coffee about how to support colleagues that are targeted in exclusionary state practices. Discussions about the Boston meeting at the AAG have forced us to think about the politics of boycotts, what supportive spaces mean, and what a feminist politics looks like. Include a project in your course for students to write what they are going and how they are inspired. These spaces are where things are happening, and we invite you to write about them.
These are the discussions we want to see in print. We want to pull together our thinking and not loses these thoughts as we continue our daily lives in parallel struggles. Any lengths – short blogs, and pieces that are singularly focused (1500-3000 words) and those of you who have been writing up analyses for some time, we want to hear from you, too (5000-9000 words). Some pieces we’ll send for review – and others we’ll post on our website https://genderplaceandculture.wordpress.com. Images, poems, videos – we welcome all forms of expression!
Speak out! Speak up! Let us hear from you.
Deadline: March 15 – with publication planned for April/May 2017
Women’s March Reference
Women’s March, 2017. Guiding Vision and Definition or Principles. [flyer] Available at:https://genderplaceandculture.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/1391c-wmwguidingvision26definitionofprinciples.pdf [Last accessed 28 January 2017]
The Women’s March brought together hundreds of thousands of supporters in Washington, DC, not only to protest the recent election in the US, but also to “affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination” (Women’s March on Washington, 2017). Conceived initially in November 2016 as a protest against the President-elect, the March took hold and spread across the globe. The day after the inauguration of the new US president, an estimated 4.8 million supporters marched and protested across the world. Participation was well beyond the boundaries of people who consider themselves activists. Sustaining the momentum of the movement is key in keeping these spaces open for resistance.
We seek to map out the emergent spaces, issues and strategies that the Women’s March has opened up for both those in the US under the current administration and those around the world facing similar ultra-conservative, ethnocentric, and nationalist upswellings.
Editors of Gender, Place and Culture welcome submissions that address the Women’s March. We encourage celebratory pieces of works as well as critiques. We thus invite submissions that take the form of creative writing, poetry, image essays, research agendas, strategy documents, policy analysis, viewpoints, polemics, and regular research papers. We call for shorter pieces (1500 to 3000 words) and longer analyses (5000 to 9000 words). We also request blogs, vlogs, and picture essays that once vetted will posted on https://genderplaceandculture.wordpress.com, as they become available.
Deadline – 15 March. Send queries and submissions to:
Submissions will be reviewed by the Editors, and where appropriate sent for peer review, with a planned publication of April-May 2017.
Women’s March, 2017. Guiding Vision and Definition or Principles. [flyer] Available at: https://genderplaceandculture.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/1391c-wmwguidingvision26definitionofprinciples.pdf [Last accessed 28 January 2017]
I’m excited to be a part of the Gender, Place and Culture (GPC) team as the new Book Review Editor. My first article was published in GPC, so it holds a special place in my academic history.
I am looking forward to understanding more about the field of gendered and feminist geographies. I teach a geography and gender based course at Miami University, so it will be exciting to see new texts as they come in and read scholarly critiques of them. I think it could be really invigorating to my own work as well as teaching. I would like to contribute to GPC through the promotion of new perspectives that energize geography and involve the contemplation of different outlooks. This is something that really calls to me.
My research centers on gendered and feminist geographies and always has. I publish primarily on topics that intersect with gender and media, but other interests include body geographies and feminist urban politics. My 2006 GPC article published on representations of body and the home in horror films entitled “Breached bodies and home invasions: Horrific representations of the feminized body and home” was cited in a GPC Reflections piece in 2008 and included in the 2014 GPC reader. I recently submitted a book manuscript on how gendered geographies manifest in media entitled Public privates: Geographies of mediated spaces. I am currently working on a new project on reproductive geographies and how assisted reproductive technologies affect the body and socio-spatial understandings of conception and pregnancy. This is a brand new field for me and I’m having fun delving into new literature.
The editorial team has been very welcoming and the transition hopefully will be smooth.