The Future of Work through the Lens of the Past: Early Feminist Economic Geography and the Politics of Inclusion

Authors: Jamie Winders*, Syracuse University, Barbara Ellen Smith*, Virginia Tech
Topics: Economic Geography, Gender, Geographic Theory
Keywords: feminist economic geography, work, gender, labor, canon
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Washington 6, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Feminist geography has focused critical attention on highlighting, with the goal of filling, the gaps and silences in human geography related to the workings of gender. Beginning from the premise that the ‘human experience’ is always already gendered, classed, racialized, and bordered, feminist geography has transformed the ways that geography understands the production of space, place, and scale, the socio-spatial dialectic, and the complex interactions between nature and society. Are there, though, silences within feminist geography itself? This presentation examines the early years of feminist economic geography – what Bowlby and Tivers (2009) call the “prehistory of feminist geography.” What, it asks, can we learn about the future of work, as well as the future(s) of feminist geography, by revisiting early published and unpublished work in what became feminist economic geography? In particular, we reflect on how feminist geography’s approach to labor and gender might have changed, had these early feminist works been more central to or more fully incorporated into what became the canon in feminist geography. How might feminist geography have changed, if these early reflections on the nature of work, gender, class, and space had received more serious attention? To address these questions, this presentation draws on the writings of Bowlby, Tivers, Mackenzie, McDowell, Burnett, Hayford, and other early feminist geographers. As it will show, conversations among these scholars and between them and mainstream geography in the 1970s laid the groundwork for and anticipated many debates in feminist geography in ways we have yet to acknowledge.

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