Leslie Kern is an organizing committee member for our upcoming Feminist Geography Conference. She is the first to be featured in our series that profile numerous feminist geographers, what they do and how they do it!
Please write a summary about you and your work/interests/research.
A. I’m currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography & Environment at Mount Allison University, in New Brunswick, Canada. My PhD is in Women’s Studies from York University (2008). My past work looked at gender in the context of condominium development and urban revitalization, and now I focus more on neighbourhood-level gentrification processes, looking particularly at how spaces of social and economic interaction are transformed.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. My current project examines how embodiment and embodied social practices are represented, materialized and implicated within gentrification processes. I’ve just submitted a paper exploring the ways in which environmental gentrification is facilitated through the conflation of both pollution and health with particular kinds of bodies and embodied practices.
Q. Why feminist geography?
A. I had never heard of feminist geography until graduate school, but once I saw that we could use “space” and “place” as lenses to explore oppression, violence and inequality, I was hooked.
Q. What was the last scholarly article or book you read?
A. I’m working my way through “Dispossession: The Performative in the Political” by Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou.
Q. What is your must read classic?
A. Sherene Razack’s edited collection “Race, Space and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society” comes to mind, since it was Sherene’s class (see below!) that introduced me to “space” as a critical social concept.
Q. What was your favorite class ever?
A. Sherene Razack’s “Race, Space and Citizenship” at OISE/University of Toronto. Not only did it make me a geographer, but I met one of my best friends and continuing collaborators there – Dr. Vannina Sztainbok.
Q. Do you have a piece of advice for emerging scholars?
A. I’m still at an early stage in my career. I think that getting comfortable with feedback and criticism has been important in my development as a scholar, and now I see how valuable review and collaboration are. So I would say: share your work, send it out for review, don’t be afraid of the feedback, don’t take it personally, and be excited about all the ways in which it will make your work so much better.
Q. What do you hope to get out of the Feminist Geography Conference?
A. I’m looking forward to strengthening communities of support among feminist scholars, and to the intellectual buzz that I get from small, interactive conferences with amazing people.
Want to learn more about Leslie and her work? Visit her website at: http://www.mta.ca/faculty/socsci/geograph/kern.htm