Neil Nunn’s exposure to feminist geography began in his undergraduate years at Simon Fraser University through classes with Paul Kingsbury, Geoff Mann, Jesse Proudfoot, and Rini Sumarto. Since then, Neil’s work and research interests revolve around four disciplinary subtopics: emotional, affectual, more-than-human, and feminist geographies. He earned his MA at the University of Victoria and he is working towards a PhD at UBC, Okanagan.
Neil’s MA studies explored individuals’ social situations in the informal recycling sector. More recently his work has examined how an emotional lens might offer a nuanced register to rethink academic knowledge production.
When asked ‘why feminist geography?’ Neil’s response was twofold: “I was immediately drawn to the many powerful tools that feminist geography offers to understand social inequality. A detail about feminist geography that has always stuck with me is its dedications to asking difficult and unanswerable questions and feeling comfortable doing so. I continually feel challenged and discomforted by the phenomenon I analyze and the questions I ask through my engagement with feminist geographical work. This is important to me.”
Neil has also found through involvement and attending conferences that there is generally a cooperative and supportive community in feminist geography. He has chosen to participate in the Feminist Geography Conference largely because it is a group he wishes to grow and be involved with in his future career as a scholar. “It is a community that envisions knowledge production anew, and this is something I support,” he said.
Currently, Neil is working on a number of things professionally and personally. “I am working on a paper that explores the way that human exceptionalism exists through geographical thought. I am also in the middle of writing book reviews for Gender, Place and Culture and the Annals of the AAG. So far, it has been a really busy year,” he explained. Neil is also an assistant editor for ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies.
On top of his academic workload, Neil is also building a house near the ocean with his partner and two dogs in Jordan River, a small community on Vancouver Island. For nearly a decade and a half, Neil has been involved in the reforestation sector of British Columbia, both planting trees and supervising groups of tree-planters.
Two of Neil’s favorite graduate classes on feminist theory, a Master’s feminist methodology class taught by Pamela Moss and a PhD feminist theory course taught by Ilya Parkins, changed the way he viewed the world and enabled him to engage in his own research in nuanced ways. “I look up to Ilya and Pamela and am really fortunate that they have become mentors of mine,” he said.
Neil recommends two must read classics for the graduate student engaging in feminist research: Feminist Geography in Practice (P Moss Ed.) and Feminisms in Geography (P Moss and K Falconer Al-Hindi Eds.) He additionally recommends two feminist theory articles: Affective Economies by Sarah Ahmed and Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter by Karan Barad. Neil is working his own way through William L. Connelly’s The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism. “I have found it quite compelling. It offers a fascinating relational view of neoliberal systems and useful offers a number of tangible and useful suggestions for approaching the systemic social maladies that are underscored. I have also just read Elizabeth Grosz’ Becoming Undone and in the last few months have been spending some time with Rosi Braidotti’s The Posthuman,” he said.
Although Neil stresses that he is in the germinal stages of academia, he still offers up advice to other emerging scholars. “The academy can be a very isolating place. Contrary to popular belief, I have learned that knowledge production is always a communal process, developed in and through interaction with many individuals, and there is much to be gained from building a trusting, safe, non-competitive community. My academic journey has been more successful, and my experience richer, due to the support of the people in my network.”
To free himself from the stresses of academic life, Neil is a surfer and practitioner of yoga.
If you would like to find out more about Neil’s academic work, feel free to visit Academia Edu.