Lynda Johnston is a Professor of Geography in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Waikato. Her research is described as queer geographies with a specific focus on gender, sexuality, place, leisure and tourism.
Lynda is interested in feminism and poststructuralism; gender, sexuality and embodiment; queer tourism; methodologies and constructions of geographical and tourism knowledges. “I concentrate on the formation of subjectivities–gender, sexuality, race and class–and the ways in which these are performed in different spaces (gay pride parades, spaces of sport and leisure, homes, beaches, media, spaces of ‘nature’). I am always interested in trying new methodologies to assist my collection and analysis of empirical data. I focus on the challenges and spatial complexities of inequality and my work draws attention to the exclusionary ways in which various forms of marginalisation and discrimination–such as sexism, homophobia, and racism–shape people’s spaces,” she said.
Lynda’s research interests come full circle in her book Queering Tourism: Paradoxical Performances of Gay Pride Parades (Routledge, 2005 and 2009) and more recently in her co-authored book, with Robyn Longhurst, Space, Place and Sex: Geographies of Sexualities (Rowman and Littlefield, 2010).
When asked ‘why feminist geography’ Lynda replied, “I have always been a feminist with an acute awareness of gender inequalities, heterosexism, and the hegemony of patriarch.” After traveling and studying in the U.S., Lynda settled in Hamilton, New Zealand for her masters and PhD. “The geography department here has a long history in radical thought, particularly feminist, but also Marxist, anti-racist, post-colonial, and Maori geography. As a Masters then PhD student I soaked up every opportunity to learn how to challenge and subvert gendered and sexed inequalities using feminist geography framework,” she said.
Lynda has several projects she is currently working on. She finished and article with her colleague, Robyn Longhurst, that reflects on 21 years of work on ‘the body’ published in Gender, Place, and Culture. “The journal is reaching its 21 year anniversary so it was timely to think about bodies – in all of their messy materiality – and how geographers have been both fascinated and repelled by embodiment,” she said. Lynda added that some of her favorite scholarly articles to read are in GPC.
Lynda holds a community role as chairperson of the group Hamilton Pride. “Whenever possible, and when appropriate, I combine my ‘on the ground’ activism with research activities,” she said. At the launch of Hamilton Pride, Lynda organized and chaired a ‘Gender Diversity Panel’ at the University of Waikato. “It was an extremely stimulating and provocative event.”
The year Lynda began graduate school, 1993, she read Gillian Rose’s Feminist Geography. “It had a profound effect on me and still does. [Rose] troubled the binaries such as Same/Other, Masculine/Feminine and encouraged feminist geographers to critique the masculinism of geography,” she said.
This semester, Lynda is looking forward to learning in the class ‘Te Raranga Kete: Introduction to Maori Fibre Arts’. “It’s an opportunity to continue to develop my tikanga (Māori) knowledge,” said Lynda.
Lynda shared with us a piece of advice for emerging scholars that many of our other featured feminist geographers found equally important: find yourself a fabulous mentor! “I was extremely lucky to learn from, and be supported by, Robyn Longhurst at the University of Waikato,” she said. “When I worked at the University of Edinburgh Liz Bondi was very generous with her time for new and emerging feminist geographers. [Liz] organized and supported feminist geography reading groups, collaborative writing projects, and I learned ‘best practice’ when we co-supervised PhD students.”
Lynda also encourages emerging scholars to join the International Geographical Union Gender and Geography Commission. “It’s a group of approximately 600 geographers from about 60 countries. I try to attend as many meetings as possible and we stay in touch electronically by a newsletter produced by Professor Janice Monk. The commission has members from all over the world. Being able to meet with feminist geographers from Japan, South America, Eastern Europe, Italy, Norway, Canada, etc brings new perspectives to our scholarship,” she said.
For more information or to get in touch with Lynda, visit her professional site here.