Conference Reflections: Kristy Copeland — August 14, 2014

Conference Reflections: Kristy Copeland

One of my favorite things about the conference was that it really pushed me to introduce myself to other feminist scholars, have meaningful conversations and develop lasting relationships with them. For me this is a big contrast with the AAG where it is easy to stick with people you know or just meet someone in passing before excusing yourself to run across the building to the next session. The FemGeog conference was intimate with long lunches and multiple long coffee breaks so there was really time to talk. And the speed dating in the beginning was revolutionary for me because I got to know a lot of people right away. It was beautiful to see so many generations of feminist geographers sharing one space and dialoguing about our discipline. It made me feel part of something special. I really want to thank the organizers for such an amazing opportunity which I will remember for a long time.

One thing I have reflected on since the conference — both on my own and in conversation with Katie Gillespie and Amy Piedalue at UW — is how we as feminist geographers deal with power differences among us. There were several such discussions at the FemGeog conference. I’m thinking especially of the work-life balance session where we discussed how scholarship models and job location choices are different for those with or without tenure and for white scholars and scholars of color. I am learning so much from our brave community about naming these issues outright — especially when they seem to be invisibilized. I think it is always difficult to acknowledge power differentials among us but I am grateful for the space FemGeog provides to strategize together on how we as feminist geographers can better recognize and address them. I would love to see dealing with power differentials among us as a future conference theme or at least as an intentionally continued conversation in future years. Thank you all for such a wonderful experience.

Kristy Copeland
PhD Candidate in Geography
University of Washington

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Notes from the Wrap-up Session — July 8, 2014

Notes from the Wrap-up Session

Conference Themes/Wrap up session

The organizers set aside time at the end of the conference to discuss what had been going on for the past two and a half days as well as plan for any follow-up events. There were over twenty people  in attendance for the discussion.

We have kept the comments section open for this post. If you have any other suggestions, please contribute to the conversation. If you would like to take the lead on one of these tasks, please let us know – either in the post or by email. As always, if you would prefer to talk to one of the organizers from this conference contact us at femgeogconference@gmail.com

De-briefing

“What do you think the main emergent themes of this conference have been? What would you like to talk more about?”

  • I would like to talk more about the different genealogies of feminist geography/feminisms – sort of an intergenerational conversation
  • I’m interested in who wasn’t here (not people, but subfields of feminist geography) and why – and what we missed in not hearing from them
  • Some of the things we heard about and some of the places where these ideas came from were:
    a. Canada (CAG)
    b. Beyond North American academy
    c. What constitutes “Good enough” feminism? Slow, contingent, embodied, practiced
    d. Ongoing issues of what it means to do feminist scholarship, how to do it, etc
  • How can we do intersectional research?
  • Continue to develop a Repository/Sources for teaching and for pedagogy – build on what exists [Nicole Laliberte has volunteered to take on this task]
  • “Shadow” conference with research papers – possibly post AAG conference?
  • Time for mentoring

Future Plans
“Ideas for future conferences, networks, connections, publications, etc.!”

  • Another conference, but fewer over-lapping sessions, and have it before or after the AAG (or IGU, RGS-IBG, CAG (w/ Suzanne Mackenzie)); subconference of AAG; reaching out locally (lunches, small workshops); possibly the University of North Carolina
  • Pre-conference as a place to recharge with collaboration/creative thinking/sharing of inspiration/sharing of current reading material (e.g. something other/beyond research presentation). Feminist space without duplicating research presentations.
  • Facebook page (closed one, so no trolls allowed) – perhaps coordinate with Fem. Geographers, GPOW?
  • Perhaps every other year for the conference – yes, to prevent conference and organizer burnout, but keep this going!
  • A non-professional-associated group? (Not AAG. Femgeog sub-groups of regional associations)
  • Feminist geography group at NWSA?
  • Address inclusivity and who is not present and why. More males (?) or an intentional female space (?)
  • Collaborative publication ideas…?
  • Summer reading “workshops” and/or intense reading weeks and/or intensive summer course in feminist geography
    a. Theory
    b. Methods
    c. Community research
  • Map of safe spaces for feminist geography; map of feminist geography – the WordPress site?
  • Concrete (micro and macro) ways to change things we don’t like (geog. Disciplinary/broader academic culture) now

 

Conference Reflections: Emma Armstrong-Carter — May 30, 2014

Conference Reflections: Emma Armstrong-Carter

As one of the few undergraduates at the Feminist Geography conference, I experienced it from an unusual perspective. I was exposed to innumerable intellectual ideas and to the functionality of academia in general, but here I want to describe my reaction to the general aura of the conference.  I felt honored to be included in the exchange of ideas and was awed by camaraderie of the various professors and researchers. In particular, I was struck by the grace and the thoughtfulness with which participants supported each other and exchanged ideas. This was most apparent in “questions and comments” time after each presentation. After each presentation, I noticed, there were several moments of silence as the audience allowed the presenters’ message to settle in. Even when it was technically time for lunch, the audience paused in this way to reflect. After my own presentation with Dr. Elizabeth Olson, this silence alone felt immensely validating, because it meant that our audience was taking the time to reflect and respond to a project we had worked hard on all semester. It showed that they, too, saw our topic as thought-provoking and worthy of attention. Furthermore, when the audience offered comments and questions, they usually weren’t just a series of unrelated points. Rather, each commentator built off the each others’ ideas and nodded along to each other. It was in these moments, first of quiet contemplating and then of sharing, that the true potential of academia was embodied. A public sphere was created, an uninterrupted, supportive space for the exchange of ideas. As Emmanual Kant once said, this public exchange of knowledge is the purest form of freedom. While acknowledging the privilege that created the conditions for me to participate in the Fem Geog conference, I am immensely grateful for how it showed me first hand the strength with which people share, support and validate one another. This in itself was freeing and enlightening. 
 
Emma

 

Featured Feminist Geographer: Maria Dolors Garcia Ramon — May 15, 2014

Featured Feminist Geographer: Maria Dolors Garcia Ramon

The Commission on Gender and Geography of the International Geographical Union (IGU) honors Maria Dolors Garcia Ramon, Professor Catedrática at the Autonomous University of Barcelona on her forthcoming retirement.

Maria Dolors Garcia RamonAs a pioneering feminist geographer, and founding secretary of this IGU Commission, she was instrumental in its creation in 1988. Maria Dolors has consistently worked to widen perspectives and international participation in feminist geography, epitomized by the 2006 conference in Barcelona “Feminist Geographies Around the World.” She brought together perspectives of feminist geographers from Latin America, south and southeastern Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and western, central and southern Europe along with those from the United Kingdom and United Sates through the publication of a special issue of the journal Belgeo in 2007.

In her department, Maria Dolors fostered an active gender group, mentoring others through their graduate degrees onto faculty appointments. Together they have conducted collaborative research in rural and urban settings, with women, children and youth. Maria Dolors has hosted numerous feminist geographers from abroad. In addition to her collaborative work with colleagues she has researched and written on the representation of women geographers in Spain, on women travelers, and post-colonial studies in North Africa through international collaborations.

Professor Garcia Ramon’s accomplishments have been recognized by awards from the Autonomous University, of Barcelona, the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, the international journal Geocritica, and the Association of American Geographers. as well  by membership in Acadèmie Europa

We all honor her for the work she has done and for who she is. Maria Dolors, we wish you well !

Feminist Geographers – Welcome to UNO! — May 13, 2014

Feminist Geographers – Welcome to UNO!

The University of Nebraska Omaha is the place to be for the 2014 feminist geography conference! The weather should be mild, the airport accommodates international travelers, and the campus is attractive and easy to navigate. Omaha itself is moderately priced and offers variety in accommodation, entertainment, and transportation. In many ways this setting is perfect for the kinds of engaged collegial moments that the organizers hope to foster. Welcome!

Conferees and organizers – many conferees are also conference organizers – have worked tirelessly to craft a schedule quite different from many other academic conferences. Size matters: This one is smaller than many. The pace is slower, with longer breaks for meals, snacks, and conversation than one often finds. The sessions themselves offer ample time for the kinds of thoughtful, loving criticism that permits ideas to flourish. The organizers’ hope is that the conference offers relaxation, energy, and a sort of oasis where feminist geographers’ paths converge for significant interactions over a few days.

CGPCPamela and Karen appreciate Taylor and Francis, Publishers’ interest in offering conferees a specially designed conference reader: Feminisms in Action: Who we are, What we do and How we do it. Pamela and Karen found it very difficult to select articles from over 20 years of Gender, Place and Culture; nonetheless, they did so and invite conferees to engage with it however they wish. Like the feminist geography conference itself, the reader offers myriad possibilities. Read or re-read each or just one selection, dip briefly into the introduction, or select pages at random. Explore.

What can come of an intimate conference of geographers who identify themselves or their work or their interests in some way as feminist? Exchanges among conferees in organized sessions, over meals and in coffee shops, and in passing will give rise to infinite possibilities, brimming with potential.

Safe travels, and, once again – welcome!

Karen Falconer Al-Hindi
On Behalf of the Organizing Committee

Featured Feminist Geographer: Blake Hawkins — May 9, 2014

Featured Feminist Geographer: Blake Hawkins

Blake Hawkins is completing his undergraduate in geography at the University of Northern British Columbia and is planning to begin a master’s in library and information studies at the University of British Columbia in the fall. He is from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia and this has been extremely influential in guiding his research interests. Broadly, he has researched the roles of gender and place on women’s and men’s health and well-being in Northern British Columbia. This has given him the opportunity to also engage in feminist research methods (autobiographical and autoethnography) to better understand these interests.

Blake - ProfileCurrently, Blake has a few areas of interests which he would like to hopefully engage more thoroughly. At the moment, he is interested in using autoethnography and autobiographical writings to better understand gender dynamics in the North and how anxiety impacts one’s sense of place. He is very fortunate to have worked with other feminist geographers, such as Pamela Moss, who are interested in using personal narratives in their research. Blake would also like to further engage in research on discursive spaces of health and gender produced in the realm of digital geography. Many different youtube and other websites have a massive amount of material which needs to be explored amongst feminist and other geographers! He hopes to be able to pursue these interests by combining conceptions of space in library and information studies.

Blake would have to acknowledge Drs. Gail Fondahl and Pamela Moss as major influences for his interest in feminist geography. During the Fall 2013 semester, he took an independent study course which gave him the opportunity to become engaged in some feminist geography literature. Blake must also acknowledge that thanks to a co-planned session with Dr. Pamela Moss at the Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers. Drs. Moss and Courtney Donovan invited Blake to be a panelist at the Annual Meeting Association of American Geographers, Tampa, 2014. Both sessions validated a need for this scholarship.

Blake must acknowledge that Dr. Pamela Moss’ Feminist Geography in Practice: Research and Methods (2002) and Placing Autobiography in Geography (2001) have been very helpful sources to begin engaging in ideas debated amongst feminist geographers. He did not find the material overwhelming and very accessible to an early-stage feminist geographer.

To conclude, Blake wishes that he could attend in person. Unfortunately, work commitments have prevented this from happening. However, he really hopes to meet people at future feminist and/or general geography conferences!

Featured Feminist Geographer: Sarah Elwood — May 2, 2014

Featured Feminist Geographer: Sarah Elwood

Sarah ElwoodSARAH 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.”

Featured Feminist Geographer: Karen Morin — April 28, 2014

Featured Feminist Geographer: Karen Morin

MORIN photoKAREN MORIN is a Professor of Geography and Associate Dean of Faculty at Bucknell University. She works within the disciplinary subfield of feminist historical geography. Her recent book Civic Discipline: Geography in America, 1860-1890 is about the roots of American geography as specifically commercial in nature and argues that much of what was constituted as geographical knowledge in the 19th century can be traced to the personal financial missions of the men who promoted it.

Karen is working on a number of projects related to spatial forms of incarceration and punishment, as well as an historical-geographical study of what she calls the “usable carceral past.” Karen is co-editing a volume on this with Dominique Moran (University of Birmingham) which she hopes to launch at the International Historical Geography Conference in London in July 2015. She is working on a paper that compares the “caging” of humans in prisons and animals in zoos, in terms of experience, ethics, disciplinary regimes, and the respective animal and prisoner rights movement. “There are many resonances with this kind of work and feminist geography. In fact, I just returned from the AAG meeting in Tampa at which a University of Guelph feminist geographer, Alice Hovorka, who makes explicit in her work in Botswana the intersections across animal and feminist geographies, presented the Gender, Place and Culture Jan Monk Distinguished Annual lecture,” she said.

Karen recently moved into an administrative role at her university and is finding herself more and more concerned about the problems and issues related to women and women’s work in higher education. “I’m not sure how yet but I hope to help make some contribution there – on misogyny and racism in the classroom, work-life balance, issues surrounding mentoring, on diversity in leadership and communication styles – there’s an endless stream of topics to tackle. Despite some bright spots we’ve seen very little progress in these areas over the past several decades,” she said.

Karen chose feminist geography due to changes happening throughout the academy in the 1980’s and 90’s relating to women’s writing, work, lives and travels. She also believes her mentors have a hand in helping her select feminist geography. “I owe my career in feminist geography to my mentors, especially Jeanne Kay Guelke, a pioneer in the field who offered some of the most incisive critiques of the masculinism of American historical geography and who advised my PhD dissertation,” she said.

Feminist geographers gave Karen a feeling of belonging in geography. “I initially felt like such an outsider when first attending AAG meetings for instance, but quickly found a place in the GPOW (Geographic Perspectives on Women) specialty group and subsequently went on to be associated with that group in many capacities including as chair and as first organizer of what have now become the very popular annual book parties. Almost all of my most important relationships and friendships in geography have been with feminist geographers, through and outside a number of professional societies,” she said.

Karen’s all time favorite intellectual and influential book for her work and life would be Edward Said’s Orientalism. “What a powerful manifesto on our times,” she said. Karen has a lot of eclectic interests and a wide range of ‘must-reads’. “Jeanne Kay Guelke’s feminist critique of North American historical geography were the most formative works in terms of what would specifically become my research area. But it was probably Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble that transformed how I think about gender norms, roles, and performances,” she said.

There is one particular course that stuck out in Karen’s mind as her favorite: Feminist Philosophy with Sarah Hoagland. “that was very formative, my first encounter with the likes of Simone Du Beauvoir and the whole notion of heteronormativity. Sarah was also such a supportive professor, quite exceptional within the masculine world of philosophy,” she said.

Karen’s advice for students is to keep moving until you’ve found what you love to do and find work that resonated with the progressive social changes you’d like to help make happen in the world. “We are all going to make a difference; the question is, what kind of difference do we want to make?” she said.

Karen is a native Nebraskan and glad to be back for the conference in the ‘Big O’.

Karen would like to thank the organizers and everyone who worked on the conference for making it happen.

Featured Feminist Geographer: Emily Eyles — April 18, 2014

Featured Feminist Geographer: Emily Eyles

Emily Eyles is a Masters student at the University of Western Ontario. She is interested in labor and health; Her thesis examines women and youth working in probiotic yogurt kitchens that supply people living with HIV/AIDS and attempts to provide an income generated project for the workers. She hopes to start her doctorate this autumn.

Emily has always been interested in geography and works feminist theory into her practices. She said, “I appreciate feminist geography’s prioritization of voices which otherwise may not be heard. There is a certain thoughtfulness that I think pervades feminist geography practices that isn’t always made explicit in other work.”

There are two courses in particular that helped Emily grow as a geographer: “Understanding Spatiality,” an undergraduate course taught by Dr. Susan Ruddick and “Qualitative Methods,” a graduate course taught by Dr. Jamie Baxter.

“Understanding Spatiality introduced me to more radical epistemological and ontological concepts which I still employ in my work to this day,” she said, “In Qualitative Methods I appreciated the format of the course. It was a dialogue rather than a class in the traditional format.”

Places and Placelessness by E. Relph sparked Emily’s obsession with place and belonging, though D. Haraway’s Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science also had a strong influence on Emily. She added, “I enjoy all of Linda McDowell’s work, especially Working Bodies, which was one of the first feminist geography books I read as an undergraduate.”

Being an emerging scholar herself, Emily’s advice for future scholars is twofold: Put yourself out there and take every opportunity given to you. “Remember to be thankful to those who give you help along the way, but even if you do get caught up in what you’re doing and forget, you can always seek forgiveness,” she said. “Work hard at what you do and keep reading, even if you’re not writing anything.”

When asked what Emily hopes to get out of the feminist geography conference, she responded, “I hope to meet lots of interesting people. I also would like to see a diversity of standpoints and works, and maybe even participate in some at the conference. I also wish to share some of my experiences with others and get some feedback.”

For more about Emily, check out her professional website here.

Featured Feminist Geographer: Amy Trauger — April 9, 2014

Featured Feminist Geographer: Amy Trauger

Amy in India. Photo by Jen Fluri
Amy in India.
Photo by Jen Fluri

Amy Trauger is an assistant professor at the University of Georgia. She is a broadly trained geographer focusing on issues of culture, economy, and agriculture. Specifically in local, organic and fair trade supply chains, Amy has worked on issues of gender, race and justice in sustainable agriculture.

“My mother was a single woman farmer, and my interest in her roles in the community led me to study women farmers for my MS and PhD at Penn State. That, of course, led to literature on feminist geography, but her inspiring life also led me to feminism myself,” Amy said.

Amy has recently started to work on political geography for food sovereignty. “I have worked for many years as a scholar activist, and hope my work will change lives for the better,” she said. Amy’s current scholar-activist project is to prepare and deliver local and organic food to new mothers in Athens, GA.

Amy’s must-read classic is Demonic Grounds by Katherine McKittrick. She just finished, however, ”A Land Sovereignty’ Alternative: Towards a peoples’ Counter-Enclosure,” by Borras and Franco, 2012.

Although Amy cannot attend our conference this year, she has a few helpful tips for emerging scholars. “Go to conferences. Volunteer. Get involved in both your academic and research community,” she says.

For more on Amy’s work, research and interests, visit her professional site.