In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Gender and Geography

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Review Essays
  • Corporeal Geographies: Race, Sexuality, Class, and Identities
  • Politics, State, and Nation
  • Gender, Security, Violence, and Space
  • Economy: Labor and Development
  • Migration and Mobility
  • Urban, Rural, and Home Geographies
  • Gender and Political Ecology
  • Transgender Geographies

Geography Gender and Geography
Jennifer L. Fluri
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 April 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 November 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0121


Feminism has had an impact on the discipline of geography since the 1970s. In the 1980s, several articles in Anglophone geography journals lamented the lack of female scholars within the discipline while calling for more research that incorporated gender as a category of analysis. Two organizations, the Women and Geography Study Group of the Institute of British Geographers and Royal Geographical Society, and Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers formed in an effort to draw greater attention to the study of gender within the discipline of geography. In an effort to provide a place for gender-focused research, in 1994 Liz Bondi and Mona Domosh founded Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography. The study of gender within geography has introduced new theoretical concepts such as the gendering of public and private spaces, gendered divisions of paid and unpaid labor, and challenges to the gender assumptions reminiscent in much of Marxist geography. Much of this scholarship included women as a previously absent group into the study of place and space. In the 1990s gender studies grew extensively with several foundational texts that questioned existing research methodologies, ontologies and epistemologies, while providing different frameworks for teaching and scholarship, such as Gillian 1993, Massey 1994, Duncan 1996, and McDowell 1999 (all cited under General Overviews). Feminist geographers have drawn heavily on the work of feminist philosophers and theorists such as Judith Butler in Gender Trouble (Butler 1990), Bodies that Matter (Butler 1993), Precarious Life (Butler 2006), and Frames of War (Butler 2009), Donna Haraway’s “Situated Knowledges” (Haraway 1988), Elizabeth Grosz’s Volatile Bodies (Grosz 1994), Sandra Harding’s Feminism and Methodology (Harding 1987), and Chandra Mohanty’s Feminism without Borders (Mohanty 2004). Gender research in geography has incorporated the conceptualization of intersexuality as articulated by Crenshaw in the 1991 Stanford Law Review paper “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.” The linkages between gender identity and other sociopolitical categories such as race, socioeconomic class, and sexuality, have been examined by Knopp 1994 (cited under Urban, Rural, and Home Geographies), Hanson and Pratt 1988 (cited under General Overviews), and Kobayashi and Peake 2000 (cited under Corporeal Geographies: Race, Sexuality, Class, and Identities). Critiques of macro-scale processes have been a recurring aspect of gender-based research such as in Dyck 2005. Marston 2000, Staeheli 1994, and Pratt and Rosner 2012. Gender research has had a significant impact on several subdisciplines within geography. Much of this research calls for a focus on the body and embodied ways of knowing and experiential forms of understanding, gender divisions of labor and space, gender politics, gendered forms of security and insecurity, gender and migration/mobility, and gender and the environment. Gender research in geography calls for embodied and place-based research, while attending to the linkages between conceptions of place, space, and scale and the connections between intimate/everyday and global processes.

  • Butler, Judith P. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990.

    This groundbreaking book challenges the essential notion of sex and gender. Butler questions the category of woman by focusing on how gender is performed and produced rather than predetermined.

  • Butler, Judith P. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York: Routledge, 1993.

    Butler furthers her theories on performativity to show how bodies are formed through the power of heterosexuality as a hegemonic process that forms the substance of corporeality.

  • Butler, Judith P. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. New York: Verso, 2006.

    This book examines and challenges US responses to 9/11 through an analysis of mourning and grief in an effort develop global solidarity through vulnerability.

  • Butler, Judith P. Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? New York: Verso, 2009.

    Butler deepens her conceptualization of grievability and vulnerability to challenge the legitimacy of interventionist military action.

  • Dyck, Isabel. “Feminist Geography, the ‘Everyday,’ and Local–Global Relations: Hidden Spaces of Place‐making.” The Canadian Geographer 49.3 (2005): 233–243.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0008-3658.2005.00092.x

    This article examines the complex connections between home-based feminist care-work with neoliberalism, globalization, and social conservatism.

  • Grosz, Elizabeth A. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994.

    This landmark book examines how the body is socially and politically constructed rather than biologically determined.

  • Haraway, Donna. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies 14.3 (1988): 575–599.

    DOI: 10.2307/3178066

    In this article, Haraway puts forth the concept of situated knowledge, which identifies that knowledge is contextually situated and experiential. Her theory on situated knowledges has been used to question the objectivity of science.

  • Harding, Sandra G. Feminism and Methodology: Social Science Issues. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987.

    This edited volume questions conventional research methodologies to ask important questions about science, gender, social experience and politics.

  • Marston, Sallie A. “The Social Construction of Scale.” Progress in Human Geography 24.2 (2000): 219–242.

    DOI: 10.1191/030913200674086272

    Marston provides a review of the extant literature on scale and calls for broadening the scope of analysis and understanding to include the multifaceted practices of consumption and social reproduction.

  • Mohanty, Chandra T. Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

    This book provides an overview of Mohanty’s early writings with new perspectives on international feminist thought. She combines theory and pedagogy to examine academic and activist methods toward democratizing feminist praxis across spatial and ideological borders.

  • Pratt, Geraldine, and Victoria Rosner. The Global and the Intimate: Feminism in our Time. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.

    This edited volume brings together social science and humanities based approaches that examine the relationship between the global and the intimate in international relations, transnational and intercultural exchange, and economic development.

  • Staeheli, Lynn A. “Empowering Political Struggle: Spaces and Scales of Resistance.” Political Geography 13.5 (1994): 387–391.

    DOI: 10.1016/0962-6298(94)90046-9

    This article reviews the geographic dimensions of different forms of political resistance and analyzes the effects of these spatial practices on struggles for political empowerment.

General Overviews

Gender analyses within geography have examined the ways in which gender roles and relations manifest spatially as discussed by McDowell 1999. Gendering of spaces and the study of gender has been an instrumental part of the “cultural turn” in geography. Gender analyses have also had significant impact on a number of subdisciplines within geography, specifically political geography, economic geography, political ecology, and urban and rural studies. Geographic inquires such as Domosh and Seager 2001 and Nelson and Seager 2005 have examined colonial and postcolonial attempts to socially reengineer societies by way of spatial disruptions or “interventions” into gender-based behaviors. Gillian 1993 is a seminal book that incorporated a number of feminist theories to epistemologically challenge masculine notions of ontology and gendered forms of knowledge production. Moss 2002 examines feminist research methodologies, highlighting the importance of qualitative and participatory research methods. Feminist geographers have challenged positivist and quantitative methods as the only or “best” way to produce knowledge by conducting qualitative studies, which have become integral to the study of gender geographies. Bondi and Domosh set specific goals for the launch (and later ten-year anniversary) of Gender, Place and Culture. Gender research has incorporated the study of religion and place as found in Morin and Guelke 2007. Research outside of the Western context is explored in Raju 2011, an edited text on gender and geography in south Asia.

  • Domosh, Mona, and Joni Seager. Putting Women in Place: Feminist Geographers Make Sense of the World. New York: Guilford, 2001.

    Illustrates the ways in which conventional understanding of femaleness and maleness has influenced the built environment over time. The authors provide several case studies as examples such as Victorian-era homes, women factory workers during the Industrial Revolution, gendering or urban and rural spaces, mobility, colonialism and empire, and the environment.

  • Duncan, Nancy. BodySpace: Destabilizing Geographies of Gender and Sexuality. New York: Routledge, 1996.

    This edited volume investigates the function of space and place in the performance and representation of gender and sexuality. The articles in this book offer broad perspectives on work, citizenship, race, violence, and disability in disparate geographic contexts. The various authors examine the ways in which epistemologies are embodied, gendered, and rooted in place and space.

  • Gillian, Rose. Feminism & Geography: The Limits of Geographic Knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

    Rose critiques the masculinism within the discipline of geography by drawing on feminist theories to illustrate the ways in which power, knowledge, and subjectivity spatially intersect.

  • Hanson, S., and G. Pratt. “Gender, Class and Space.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 6.1 (1988): 15–35.

    DOI: 10.1068/d060015

    Drawing on 1980 census data from Worcester, Massachusetts, the authors describe the influence of gender divisions of labor on “urban social spaces.” They identify occupational segregation as a key source of intra-neighborhood class heterogeneity. The authors’ findings challenge existing (more conventional) understandings of class-based urban politics and social reproduction.

  • Massey, Doreen B. Space, Place, and Gender. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994.

    This is a collection of Massey’s influential articles on gender and space. Massey provides a broader understanding of the production of space through intersecting social relations and identities. She discussed place as always contested and provisional while illustrating the unique diversity and hybridity of place. She also examines the politics of space-time geographies.

  • McDowell, Linda. Gender, Identity and Place: Understanding Feminist Geographies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.

    Provides a carefully written introduction to the study of gender within geography. Each chapter is situated on a particular theme or area of study that incorporates gender and geography such as: the body, home and identity, community, work, public spaces, gendering the nation-state, and displacement.

  • Morin, Karen M., and Jeanne Kay Guelke. Women, Religion, & Space: Global Perspectives on Gender and Faith. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2007.

    This edited volume explores gender roles and relations with in the three Abrahamic religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The book explores the regulations of women’s mobility and access to spaces and the ways in which women negotiate and assert their agency within these spaces.

  • Moss, Pamela. Feminist Geography in Practice: Research and Methods. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.

    This is the first feminist geography book dedicated to research methodology and methods for students seeking to incorporate the study of gender into their research projects. The book includes several contributions by feminist geographers describing research approaches from research design to coding and data analysis.

  • Nelson, Lise, and Joni Seager, eds. A Companion to Feminist Geography. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.

    DOI: 10.1002/9780470996898

    This edited book provides an overview of gender studies within geography by several feminist geographers. The book is organized into the following themes: contexts, work, city, body, environment, and state/nation.

  • Raju, S., ed. Gendered Geographies: Space and Place in the South Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    This edited book focuses on the ways in which gender intersects with the production of space in south Asian contexts. The book is organized thematically within three major categories: (1) national and transnational constructs of spaces and places, (2) gendered and spatially embedded livelihood concerns, and (3) everyday experiences (negotiations and contestations).

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