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Feminist geography is a subset of human geography that focuses on the construction of identity and difference

amongst gendered groups and their relationship to natural and manmade environments. Some feminist
geographers study large communities, and others create "micro-geographies" that analyze how a small group of
people might interpret mobility, distance, and their own bodies. Feminist geographers also study imagined
geographiessuch as how people who have visited New York City imagine Times Square, or how the
construction of fictional lands, such as Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, can tell us about the
power dynamics of real cities and communities.

Overview

Feminist geography emerged as a unique field in the 1970s as a result of international womens movements and
campaigns for social justice. Scholars in this field focus on the interrelations of gender, sexuality, age,
ability, family dynamics, race, ethnicity, class, and caste. The resulting studies are interested in instances
of oppression, and the ways that those oppressions are used in geography studies. Feminist geographers have
studied and criticized the ways that geography has mapped space from a male perspective, as well as the ways
that academic departments have predominantly hired men. For example, traditional geographers might record the
time it takes to travel between two locations based on how long it takes to travel by car. Feminist geographers
might consider that some segments of the community are not be able to afford cars, and thus use different means
of transportation, each with different rates of speed that affect the time it takes to travel between the two
locations.

From these criticisms, feminist geographers suggest that academics should pay attention to the ways that
knowledge is "bound" by geographical and social spaces. For example, rather than indicating that an entire
community is impoverished, a feminist geographer would study the ways that the community has been portrayed
as impoverished by previous studies, and the ways that gender is represented amongst community members.
This researcher might also ask if all community members were interviewed, or if only male authority figures were
interviewed for a specific study. In this way, a feminist geographer would be studying the "interconnectivity" of
community members and academics. The research would then produce a new study that asks why the
community is impoverished. This process is known as a "critical approach" because it not only studies a specific
subject, but also studies the role of demographic differences, oppression, and space.

Some critics of feminist geography claim that many studies frame women as victims of oppression, and overlook
the ways that women are actively contributing to society. Other critics have indicated that the ways that feminist
geographers divide men and women is overly simplistic. Since the mid-1980s, feminist geographers have
responded to these criticisms by examining representations of gender and asking how those representations
have changed over time and space. In doing so, feminist geographers have drawn from interdisciplinary theories
from academic fields such as psychology and sociology. The resulting studies play an important role in
understanding how communities join together in new spaces, and create new meanings. For example, feminist
geographers might study how refugees speak about "home," whether it is a refugee camp, the space that a
refugees came from, or an imagined space that the refugees have never been to. By studying these issues,
feminist geographers can help aid workers to better serve refugee communities, and they can also help
governments who are accepting or denying entry to refugees.

Bibliography

Bird, John, Barry Curtis, Tim Putnam, and Lisa Tickner, eds. Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global
Change. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.
Coddington, Kate. "Feminist Geographies "Beyond" Gender: DeCoupling Feminist Research and the Gendered
Subject." Geography Compass 9.4 (2015): 214224. Print.

Domosh, Mona, and Liz Bondi. "Remembering the Making of Gender, Place and Culture." Gender, Place &
Culture 21.9 (2014): 10631070. Print.

Longhurst, Robyn, and Lynda Johnston. "Recollecting and Reflecting on Feminist Geography in Aotearoa/New
Zealand and Beyond." Womens Studies Journal 29.1 (2015): 21. Print.

McKittrick, Katherine. Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle. Minneapolis: U of
Minnesota P, 2006. Print.

Valentine, Gill. "Theorizing and Researching Intersectionality: A Challenge for Feminist Geography." Professional
Geographer 59.1 (2007): 1021. Print.

Women, and Geography Study Group. Feminist Geographies: Explorations in Diversity and Difference.
Routledge, 2014. Print.