Feminist Geopolitics and Everyday Life

  • Created by: sikemi__
  • Created on: 01-06-21 11:42


  • 1980s/90s feminist movement aimed to draw on feminist critique and challenge the nature of geographical research
  • Key text - Gillian Rose, Feminism and Geography, 1993 - discusses how perspectives of women are excluded from geographical debate and how senior women in positions of power were disregarded, arguing that this was a reflection of masculinist rationality
  • Challenged by Donna Haraway (1998) - Situated Knowledges - key figure in thinking about scientifiic results not as something objective or neutral but as social spaces that have been produced in laboratories, and that these ideas should not be thought about as attached to the scientist but situated within their agendas
    • Argues for an appreciation of an embodied objectivity 'that accomodates paradoxical and critical feminist science projects' - we can't think of ideas as being separated from those conducting the research, they are intrinsic to the production of ideas
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Feminist geopolitics

  • 'Attempts to develop a politics of security at multiple scales, including that of the (civilian) body. It decentres state security, the conventional subject of geopolitics, and contests the militarisation of states and societies...It seeks embodied ways of seeing and material notions of protection for people on the ground' (Hyndman, 2006)
    • Doesn't just think about geopolitics as emerging in the state therefore meaning we shouldn't take state narratives e.g. War on Terror very seriously. Claims that whilst those narratives are significant, we should think about how they are lived, resisted and how allternative accounts of geopolitics circulate around other arenas e.g. homes/workplaces
  • Dowler & Sharp (2001) urge for greater appreciation of the situated nature of critical geopolitics
    • Critical approaches have emerged out of elite academic institutions by predominantly men and this form of embodiment is erased - we need to be more attentive to the situated nature of critical geopolitics itself
  • Feminist geopolitics also tries to orientate attenvtion away from formal political areas, to the diverse sites of geopolitical knowledge production i.e. away from the UN and towards NGOs, streets, homes and movements
  • Kelly, 2006, argues that critical geopolitics didn'tt do enough to advance transformative alternatives to classical geopolitical visions
    • Instead of simply pointing out how simplistic the War on Terror argument was and the ways in which it located terrorism to particular states, feminist geopolitics argues that instead we should look for alternatives e.g. what would be a more peaceful form of geopolitics
  • Prominent group - Women and Geography Study Group (WGSG) of the RGS which rose to prominence over the 1980s and 1990s following the rise of critical and radical perspectives in Geography over the 1970s
  • Feminist geopolitics encourages researchers to acknowledge that all of their work is biased
  • KEY
    • Feminist geopolitics attempts to illustrate 'anti-geopolitical' perspectives e.g. BLM which states that the geopolitical slogan of imagined racial equality and harmony is wrong and we need to be active and unsettle thing
    • It also situates conflict in its political and geographical context
    • It also centres attention on resistance to geopolitical narratives and active steps that can be taken to contest the state as the centre of knowledge production
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A focus on alternatives

  • Key figure - Nick Megoran (2008) - examines the forms of ethics and morality that underscore the work of scholars of critical geopolitics
    • Examines Tuathail's work on the first Iraq War and the conflict in Bosnia, suggesting that conclusions are shapes by an adherence to some form of 'just war' thesis
    • Tuathail was very critical of military intervention in the first Iraq War, arguing that it was a reflection of a form of US hegemony and imperial interests and a geoeconomics around securing oil
    • However, when it came to the war in Bosnia he was in favour of military intervention which doesn't occur - shift in ethical position. Critical geopolitics shifts but without saying why.
    • Megoran ends by arguing for a greater focus on geographies of peace, not only war, in the work of critical geopolitics
  • Another approach to thinking about alternatives is not just thinking about the ways in which there are political agendas that underpin political scholarship but also thinking about what kinds of alternatives forms of security we can see in the world
    • Koopman, 2001, coined term alter-geopolitics' when examining grassroots struggles to build solidarity
    • Alter-geopolitics focuses on alternatives and tries to push this point and tries to decentre the state as the focal point of geopolitical knowledge production
    • Koopman examines practices of protective accompaniment in Columbia where US citizens live and work among threatened groups. Idea that security doesn't always come from the state but can also come from being close to one another. Thinks about ways in which these kinds of grassroot movements and dwelling oreintate our attention to a different form of geopolitics that is about proximity
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Intimate and corporeal geopolitics

  • Think about intimate sites (e.g. bodily practices) as being significant to geopolitical agendas
  • Work that has extended feminist geopolitics' focus on the body to the role of reproductive health in shaping territorial claims and the role of bodies in everyday life - e.g. questions of corporeality, where geopolitical strategies enter into practices of healthcare
  • Smith (2012) looks at ways in which reproductive health campaigns seek to limit certain forms of reproduction in Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, India
    • 'Territoriality relies on a geopolitics of bodies in the plural, their absence and their state of health'
  • Geopolitical strategiesand political narratives link women's bodies to the fate of territory and community, but the day to day reality of getting by, providing for young children, and caring for the body shape how these strategies materialise on the ground
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Critiques of feminist and ethnographic perspective

'Perhaps the time has come to recognise that 'critical geopolitics' is simply too loose a catchall categoryto be of much use if it incorporates all this. Many of these things might now be more usefully done under such other rubrics...Nonetheless, the narrower focus on the geostrategic knowledges used to legitimize warfare, and more generally security, remains a task for geographers interested in how geography is used 'for war' and how this might be changed' (Dalby, 2010)

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