SARAH ELWOOD is a Professor of Geography at the University of Washington. She has traveled an eclectic path over the years including work on critical GIS, urban politics of community ‘redevelopment’, sexuality and space, place-based activism, and now, relational poverty research centering on class identities/relations and alliance politics around poverty, inequality, and vulnerability.
Sarah is currently working on co-facilitating the recently launched Relational Poverty Network with her colleague Vicky Lawson. “The RPN is an open and inclusive network of scholars, students, activists and policy-makers from diverse theoretical and methodological traditions, disciplines and countries. Together, we pose new questions about social alliances in the face of vulnerability, to open a space for new understandings and new actions in poverty research and policy,” she said. Both Sarah and Vicky work with Nicholas Viotti and Santiago Canevaro, colleagues based in Argentina, on comparative research on grounded neoliberalisms, poverty politics, and middle class identities in Seattle and Buenos Aires.
Sarah chose feminist geography for the colleagues who inspire, challenge, and support her. She also values a community that values how one does their work, not just the work itself. Sarah believes in critiques of knowledge/knowing, power/oppression that open the way for hybrid epistemologies, methodological and political creativity, and a commitment to transforming a world that is broken in big and small ways.
After Neoliberalism? The Kilburn Manifesto by Stuart Hall, Doreen Massey, and Michael Rustin was the last book Sarah read. She said, “We read this collaboratively in our department before Massey’s lecture at the AAG in Tampa – shout-out to my colleagues Luke Bergmann and Vicky Lawson for making this rich interaction happen!”
Sarah’s favorite class is “The Literature of Hope.” She took the January term course one frozen Minnesota winter. Sarah’s must read classic is Donna Haraway’s Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature.
Sarah’s piece of advice for emerging scholars is, “pursue the projects and ideas that keep you up at night whatever they are, even if you aren’t sure where they or you fit in geography. As a discipline writ large, we have long history of creativity and innovation – if you can’t find a place, you can make a place.”