Nazgol Bagheri is an assistant professor of urban geography in the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She follows an interdisciplinary path of architecture, computer sciences, urban planning, anthropology, and feminist studies.
Nazgol is interested in navigating disciplinary terrain in geography, urban planning, and social anthropology to develop a working theoretical model to account for changes in the use and design of public spaces and the unique relationship between the aesthetics of modern planning, the gendering of spatial boundaries, and the contingent nature of public spaces in postmodern, neoliberal cities. “Although I have worked closely with residents and communities in the Middle East, my scholarship is defined by research epistemologies rather than the research contexts,” she said.
As a female architect, Nazgol has always been interested in the role of gender in designing and experiencing buildings, public spaces, and cities. She particularly enjoys feminist geography because of its commitment to societal change. “I see feminist geography as a venue to echo the voice of many minority groups including women as well as an opportunity to value human complexity and diversity. Honestly, I did not ‘intentionally’ choose feminist geography as you can imagine such combination might not be found…in Iranian higher education,” she said.
Nazgol is excited to meet new faces and hear new stories at this year’s Feminist Geography conference, which she believes to be a celebration of sorts: “For me, this conference is a celebration for feminist geographers who have come so far in the discipline and for geography as a whole, which has diverged from its 19th century imperialistic roots to include feminists.”
One of Nazgol’s major professional goals is to connect the active but often isolated feminist geographers in the Middle East and Asia to her colleagues in the North America. “I believe independent, intimate, and educating conferences such as our conference create the first steps toward that goal and that is why I support this initiation,” she said.
Nazgol is currently working on three different projects. The first focuses on a newly approved bill (2013) by the Islamic City Council of Tehran to empower women by creating a more women-friendly city and its relation with the current status of women and gender studies education, particularly in the urban planning and geography departments at major universities in Iran. Her second project, in collaboration with another colleague in Tehran, is to study cultural diversity, ethnic minorities, national immigration laws, and urban planning policy to explain why she believes Tehran is not a global city—despite its significant geopolitical location within the region. Nazgol’s third project is to launch long-term research collaboration with Japanese colleagues interested in exploring the feminist methodological contribution to geography, including Qualitative Geographic Information Systems (QGIS).
Nazgol also engages in a wider ongoing project: a commitment to enrichment. “In my teaching and research, I am committed to challenge as well as to enrich the Anglo-American hegemonic geographical theories through studying the people whose stories are often unheard, including women and other minorities. To this end, I encourage my students to connect theories and concepts to their everyday life experiences and stories,” she said.
Nazgol confesses that it was an urban geography class taught by Dr. Steven L. Driever, her ex-supervisor and forever mentor, that she became completely convinced geography was what she had long been searching for.
Nazgol is currently reading and teaching the co-edited volume Rethinking Feminist Interventions in the Urban by Linda Peake and Martina Pierker. She plans to read Lila Abu-Lughod’s Do Muslim Women Need Saving? next. Nazgol chose Seyla Benhabib’s Situating the Self: Gender, Community and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics as her must read classic. “I really enjoyed it as [Benhabib] beautifully interwove worlds of architecture, urban design, and feminism,” she said.
Although Nazgol still considers herself on the receiving rather than giving end of advice for emerging scholars, she still wants to share what she learned from her recent, successful job search: “Reach out and establish a network of supportive colleagues who will play an important role not only in your professional development but also in you happiness and quality of life.”
To learn more about Nazgol’s work or to get in contact with Nazgol, please visit her academic page here.