Roberta Hawkins is an Assistant Professor in the Geography department at University of Guelph where she specializes in consumption geographies, political ecology, development studies, and feminist geography. She received her PhD from Clark University in 2011.
Roberta is primarily interested in development practices and understandings in which people, places and natures connect (or not) in the North and the South. She investigates how this plays out through ethical consumption and online awareness raising campaigns, often using feminist theories and methods.
Roberta is currently working on using theories of caring at a distance to analyze an international development campaign that claims to unite women everywhere through the use of online videos and stories.
When asked why she chose feminist geography, Roberta wrote, “It just makes the most sense to me! Whenever I read or hear explanations of the world and calls for action put through the lens of feminist geographies, I’m convinced by them. I love the attention to power, the focus on the everyday and bodies and the realm of possibilities that I read within this work.”
Roberta continues to be interested in political ecology and gender and environment approaches to understanding our relationship with nature. She just read a draft of an article by Emily Billo and Alison Mountz on Institutional Ethnography – building on the work of Dorothy Smith. “It was really interesting,” she writes. “They’re going to present it at the Feminist Geography Conference so we can all learn more about it there.”
Roberta mentioned the first time she realized (as an environmental science student) that her hobbies as a feminist activist and writer could combine with her academic interests into environmental issues was in a gender and environment class she took in her fourth year of undergrad. “It sounds crazy, but until that moment I thought I had to choose between the two because I thought the concepts were just too different to be combined,” she said. “The class blew my mind and many of the case studies and readings we used in that class I still use today to frame my ideas and teach my own classes on gender and environment.”
With Roberta’s experience in the field of academia so far, she has teased out the best piece of advice she can lend to emerging scholars. “I have found it really useful to seek out mentors that you feel comfortable asking for advice. I’ve been lucky to have many such women and men to rely on to discuss career options, read over article or job application drafts, practice talks with and hear advice about long-term goals, writing strategies, networking etc. In my experience most people are really happy to talk about these things and the day-to-day practices of how they do their jobs. These mentors don’t have to be in your specific area of research and they don’t even have to be senior to you, they just have to be kind people whose work/life and attitude you’d like to emulate. Don’t be scared to ask someone out for a coffee specifically to seek their advice!”
As a member of the program and scheduling committee, Roberta has one goal in mind: to encourage real conversations with ample time to let new ideas sink in a bit instead of rushing around. She looks forward to getting to know new people in the relaxed conference style.
For a list of recent publications, visit Roberta’s Professional Website.