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Feminist geography is an approach in human geography which applies the theories, methods and critiques of feminism to the study of the human environment, society and geographical space.[1]


Areas of study

Rather than a specific sub-discipline of Geography, feminist geography is often considered part of a broader postmodern, critical theory approach, often drawing from the theories of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Judith Butler among others. More recent influences include critiques of feminism from postcolonial theorists. Feminist geographers often focus on the lived experiences of individuals and groups in their own localities, upon the geographies that they live in within their own communities, rather than theoretical development without empirical work.[1]

Many feminist geographers study the same subjects as other geographers, but often with a focus on gender divisions.[2] This concern has developed into a concern with wider issues of gender, family, sexuality etc. Examples of areas of focus which stem from this include:

In addition to societal studies, Feminist Geography also critiques Human Geography and other academic disciplines, arguing that academic structures have been traditionally characterized by a patriarchal perspective, and that contemporary studies which do not confront the nature of previous work reinforce the masculine bias of academic study.[3] The British Geographer Gillian Rose's Feminism and Geography[1] is one such sustained criticism, focused on Human Geography in Britain as being historically masculinist in its approach. This includes the writing of landscape as feminine (and thus as subordinate to male geographers), assuming a separation between mind and body. The following is referenced from Johnston & Sidaway (2004), and further describes such a separation and its influence on geography:

"'Cartesian dualism underlines our thinking in a myriad of ways, not least in the divergence of the social sciences from the natural sciences, and in a geography which is based on the separation of people from their environments. Thus while geography is unusual in its spanning of the natural and social sciences and in focusing on the interralations between people and their environments, it is still assumed that the two are distinct and one acts on the other. Geography, like all of the social sciences, has been built upon a particular conception of mind and body which sees them as separate, apart and acting on each other (Johnston, 1989, cited in Longhurst, 1997, p. 492)' Thus, too, feminist work has sought to transform approaches to the study of landscape by relating it to the way that it is represented ('appreciated' so to speak), in ways that are analogous to the heterosexual male gaze directed towards the female body (Nash 1996). Both of these concerns (and others)- about the body as a contested site and for the Cartesian distinction between mind and body - have been challenged in postmodern and poststructuralist feminist geographies."[4]

List of related geographers

See also


  1. ^ a b c Rose, Gillian (1993) Feminism and Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge Univ. of Minnesota Press
  2. ^ McDowell, Linda (1993) Space, place and gender relations in Progress in Human Geography 17(2)
  3. ^ Moss, Pamela, 2007 Feminisms in Geography: Rethinking Space, Place, and Knowledges Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ISBN 9780742538290
  4. ^ Johnston, R.J. & J.D. Sidaway. (2004). Geography and Geographers. London: Arnold, p. 312.

Further reading

  • McDowell, Linda (1992) Doing gender: feminisms, feminists and research methods in human geography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 17, 399-416.
  • McDowell, Linda; and Sharp, Joanne P. (eds). (1999). A Feminist Glossary of Human Geography. London: Arnold.
  • McDowell, Linda. (1999) Gender, Identity and Place: understanding feminist geographies. Cambridge : Polity Press, 1999
  • Pratt, Geraldine (2004) "Working Feminism." Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  • Gillian Rose (1993) Feminism and Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge Univ. of Minnesota Press
  • Seager, Joni and Nelson, Lise. (eds) (2004) Companion to Feminist Geography (Blackwell Companions to Geography). Blackwell Publishers, ISBN 1-4051-0186-5
  • Valentine, Gill. (2004) Public Space and the Culture of Childhood. London:Ashgate
  • Johnston, R.J. & J.D. Sidaway. (2004). Geography and Geographers. London: Arnold. Chapter 8: Feminist geographies.

Scientific Journals


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