Geography

Feminist geography is part of a broader postmodern approach, developing over the last 40 years, and drawing attention to difference, particularly with respect to gender equity, gender identity, and geographies of sexuality. Over the years feminist geographers have engaged with scale, challenging earlier preoccupations with the large scale, and arguing for an engagement with, for example, the household and the body, especially the female body. The field also looks at lived experience, children and child care, the individual’s relationship to landscapes and distinct places, and divisions between the sexes.

Today, feminist geography is considered a critique of traditional geography and a unique way to view place and the person. It offers a gender perspective on the key geographical concepts of space, place and nature.

Feminist geography began to be recognised as a movement in the 1970s. Before that decade, Geography had a primarily male, Eurocentric bias. The tumult of the social and political turbulence of the late 1960s allowed room for the women’s movement to gain strength. Feminist geography developed out of the struggle for women’s rights, and has always remained tied to it.

Today, academic researchers and educators use feminist geography to understand how gender, sex, and power affect space and who inhabits it. Scholars can look at movement, by individuals, small groups, and large populations. They can measure differences in the use of space by people of different ages, genders, social classes, racial and ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, (dis)abilities, and sexualities.

Through this new lens in geography, educators and students can interpret how real and imagined effects change how people, particularly women, are tied to their surroundings.

Useful Links

Women for Women International: An international women’s organisation that assists women who are recovering from national crises, such as civil war and poverty. The site contains news and personal stories from female survivors and aide workers.

United Nations: Progress of the World’s Women: Website of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The site offers portions of a publication, Progress of the World’s Women, about women’s access to justice in countries across the world. The full report will be launched later in 2011.

Oxfam Education: Mapping Our World: A UK-based educational website for  teachers of children aged 4-18. The offerings on geography include lesson plans and interactive software with animations. There are resources on human rights, maternal rights, conflict, and fair trade.

Gender in Geography Bibliography: A lengthy bibliography of published books and articles about gender and geography. This site is more for higher-level scholars and educators. It is a guide to locating resources that you can use to teach a course, or your students can use to write essays.

Gender, place, and culture: a journal of feminist geography: An academic journal of original scholarship on women, gender, and geography. This site is mainly for higher-level educators. It showcases the development of feminist theory in geography.

Children’s Geographies: An academic journal of original scholarship on the spaces, places and environments that children inhabit. Articles on gender and sexuality feature widely in this journal.  

Royal Geographical Association with the Institute of British Geographers: The website of the UK’s professional geography society for scholars. There are links to geography programmes, news articles that mention geography, and information about the Society’s activities.

Geographical Association: A UK-based charity association which has the aim of increasing geographical knowledge and awareness. The association is for teachers and students at all levels. There are links to geography resources and projects, such as living geography, undertaken by the Association.

The Geography Site: An educational website with content for teachers at all levels to use in the classroom. The site contains links and explanations that cover a range of topics, from human geography to physical geography.

United Nations Population Fund: The website of the international development agency. UNPF has news articles and data about populations across the globe. The site covers health, gender equality, women’s empowerment, youth rights, and human rights.

Earthpulse: State of the Earth 2010, from National Geographic: Photo and written essays from the year 2010 about human geography and ecological resources. National Geographic has put together content regarding population density, strains on resources, irrigation, and other topics that teachers can provide to students as resources for research papers and essays.

National Museum of the American Indian: Indigenous Geography: Human geography resources from the United States’ National Museum of the American Indian. The online exhibits cover indigenous peoples from the continents of North and South America. Visitors can learn about different indigenous communities’ economies, rituals, languages, and origins.

Further Reading

Aitkin, S. and Valentine, G. (eds) (2006) Approaches to human geography. London, Sage Publications.

Butt, G, with Bradley-Smith, P. and Wood, P. (2006) Gender Issues in Geography. In Balderstone, D. (ed) Secondary Geography Handbook. Sheffield, Geographical Association.

Katz, C and Monk, J (eds) (1993) Full Circles: geographies of women over the life course. London, Routledge.

Matthews, H. (1992) Making Sense of Place. Hemel Hempstead, Harvester Wheatsheaf.

McDowell, L. (1999) Gender, Identity, & Place: Understanding Feminist Geographies. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.

McDowell, L. and J.P. Sharp (eds) (1999) A Feminist Glossary of Human Geography. London, Arnold.

Momsen, J. and V. Kinnaird (eds) (1993) Different Places, Different Voices: Gender and Development in Africa, Asia and Latin America. London, Routledge.

Moss, Pamela, 2007 Feminisms in Geography: Rethinking Space, Place, and Knowledges Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Nelson, L., and Seager, J. (Eds) (2005) A Companion to Feminist Geography. Oxford, Blackwell Publishing: An extensive overview of the contributions of feminism to geography – including over 50 chapters.

Seager, J. and Nelson, L. (Eds) (2004) Companion to Feminist Geography (Blackwell Companions to Geography). Oxford, Blackwell Publishers

Taylor, S. (1998) Progression and Gender Differences in Mapwork. In Scoffham, S. (ed) Primary Sources, Research Findings in Primary Geography. Sheffield, Geographical Association.

Women and Geography Study Group of the IBG (1984) Geography and Gender: An Introduction to Feminist Geography. London, Hutchinson, in association with the Explorations in Feminism Collective.

Women and Geography Study Group of the Royal Geographical Society with the IGB (1997) Feminist Geographies: Explorations in Diversity and Difference. Harlow, Longman.

 

Page authors: Jessica Zimmer and Molly Warrington

Updated: 15th January 2013