Spaces of Struggle 2: Feminist legacies and new frameworks in planning

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Urban Geography Specialty Group, Sexuality and Space Specialty Group, Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Grand Couteau, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Organizers: Sarah Gelbard, Bri Gauger
Chairs: Sarah Gelbard


Feminism has recently reclaimed a share of discourse unparalleled for several decades, as the term holds a prominent place in popular culture and is foregrounded in surging activist movements that use gender as a rallying point for resistance against social, racial, and economic injustice. From the neighborhood level to the global stage, renewed debates over feminist definitions and goals signal the need for a conversation in planning that reflects on the past, takes stock of the present, and examines possibilities for the future.

Despite a 40-year legacy of feminist scholarship in planning, the discipline continues to struggle to meaningfully address feminist concerns. Affirmative action, gender mainstreaming, and the few other gender policy trends tend to collapse feminist discourse in planning to issues of gender equality. While these interventions may have improved the built environment and career chances for some women, they have sidestepped a diversity of other feminist aims and have not radically changed the way planning understands its role, responsibility, or reproductive power.

Feminist scholars point us to the problematic ways in which our socio-political systems have been structured on universalist assumptions of citizenship and the public-private dichotomy. Feminist geographers have highlighted how these issues intersect with the politics of space and have provided key concepts for planning scholars to disrupt several normative assumptions of the profession and to reveal inequitable practices and policies. With the current resurgence of feminist discourse, a new generation of feminist planning scholarship seems to be emerging to address new contexts of meaning and experience and our new/renewed spaces of struggle.

As planners and urban scholars, we continue to struggle with the question “what would a non-sexist city look like?” In conversation with the other Spaces of Struggle Sessions in Radical Planning*, we ask:

How can a reinvigorated and radical feminist position push planning past gender-oriented policy reform to meaningfully engage with the political activism and theoretical projects of feminism?

What important lessons and tools can we bring forward from the legacy of feminist planning, whether seen as a political orientation and activist practice, as a theoretical lens and vehicle for critical exploration, or as a set of institutional demands for equal pay and treatment of women in their careers and in society writ large?

What critical intersections with queer, black, indigenous, and ability scholarship can helps us address ongoing omissions and failures?

How can feminist frameworks and practices help planners address present issues and possibilities and work towards a more equitable future?

* Spaces of Struggle – a global collective of urban scholars and activists studying and amplifying radical approaches to planning and development – is sponsoring this paper session. The sessions collected under this title aim to engage with the many voices who believe radical practice and scholarship are crucial to resisting institutionalized systems and mainstreamed practices. We work collectively to pose critical questions and engage directly with the histories, theories, and practices of urban planning in pursuit of more just and equitable ways forward. More info on the Spaces of Struggle: AAG sessions on Radical Planning is available at


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Bri Gauger*, University of Michigan, Planning for Feminist Futures: Feminist Practice in the Urban Planning Academy 20 10:00 AM
Presenter Lauren Andres*, , Phil Jones, University of Birmingham, Lorena Melgaço, University of Birmingham, Geographies of international planning education: ethics, positionality and reflective practice 20 10:20 AM
Presenter Ragnhild Claesson*, Malmö University, Pink urban space for teenage girls: Making stereotyped design within a collaborative gender equality agenda 20 10:40 AM
Presenter Sandra Huning*, , Gender Planning – main road, detour or dead-end street? 20 11:00 AM
Discussant Annette Koh University of Hawaii at Manoa, Urban & Regional Planning 20 11:20 AM

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