- Shaw (2012) How do we evaluate the safety of women? In Building Inclusive Cities, Whitzman et al pp. 184-201
- Khosla & Dhar (2012) Safe access to basic infrastructure In Building Inclusive Cities, Whitzman et al, pp. 117-139
- Khosla (no date) Vienna, Austria: A model city for gender mainstreaming
- Bauriedl, Chapter 10 in Moss & Falconer Al-Hindi (pp. 130-139)
- Vaiou, Chapter 16 in Moss & Falconer Al-Hindi (pp. 207-214)
For those who would like to write a Reading Response for Nov 21, here are three questions that you may consider to prompt your writing:
- Craft a comprehensive definition of “inclusive cities” based on the Khosla & Dhar chapter and the Inclusive Cities website. According to these two texts, what does “inclusive cities” mean?
- How would you answer the question that Shaw poses in the title of her text? According to her chapter, how do we evaluate programs that address the safety of women? (You may also include a comment on Khosla’s overview of gender mainstreaming in Vienna, as applicable.)
- Bauriedl’s and Vaiou’s chapters move us away from a focus on cities, toward a focus on the academy. These authors speak to a different type of challenge related to inclusion: both chapters illustrate the ongoing challenges to carve out the space for feminisms in the field of geography in distinct academic and political-cultural contexts (although their comments absolutely apply in North American university contexts as well). Bauriedl and Vaiou also extend conversations that we had earlier in the semester (in particular, refer to the theorizations of gender in chapters we read by Geraldine Pratt and the mobility article by Susan Hanson). Taking these authors’ comments under consideration, reflect on how your understanding of feminist geography has changed over the course of the semester.
Over the course of the semester, we have considered a number of variations on the theme of social inclusion and equity in cities. We have discussed everything from the sense of belonging (from access to safe streets to the affect of perceptual memory on our understanding of neighbourhood change) to efforts to improve the urban environment (including the successes and challenges of tools like women’s safety audits and other forms of participatory planning). These discussions have asked us to take seriously the ways that economic trends and political ideology converge through, inter alia, the framing of urban revitalization, including the discourses used to sell revitalization policies to urban publics. Most recently, we have examined how people make sense of their own urban experience, and how researchers can best collect and disseminate these stories in a way that appropriately reflects narrators’ truths. To a certain extent, then, we have covered a breadth of issues that indicate how, and for whom, cities work, as well as how marginalized communities are often disproportionately affected by urban change. This week’s topic focuses our attention to the how of urban social change: what are the specific measures that can be adopted to make cities more equitable for marginalized groups, and how do we evaluate what it means for measures to be successful?
As some of the pre-meeting questions intimate, these questions are inherently political. Programs and measures to address social inclusion require naming and targeting specific groups whose needs are deemed most pressing. They are funded through particular mechanisms; as we have seen in previous readings, funding structures respond to and reproduce existing social divisions. And what is the state’s responsibility to respond to these programs? More to the point: which level of government is responsible?
The last question speaks to pre-meeting question about zoning, the attempt to preserve wealth in certain neighbourhoods, and the displacement of poor people. This student asked how Vancouver, as a relatively new Canadian city, has fared in relation to economic changes, especially as compared to older cities like Toronto and Halifax. The answer is, of course, complex, and age – or at least the existence of established neighbourhoods – could play a small role. More important, though, are other factors: are city councillors elected within a ward system, where each councillor represents and is accountable to a particular neighbourhood? How much power does the planning commission have and whose interests do they serve? Which level of government has jurisdiction over social welfare policies such as social housing? What is the provincial tax apparatus in relation to the distribution of wealth? And so on… (During class, I will illustrate this discussion with an example of a municipality that has developed environmentally progressive policies but suffers from a lack of a comprehensive regional planning structure.)
Complementing our discussion of on-the-ground policy and practice are the readings from the textbook, which remind us that debates over policy may reflect debates over theory and method. The rich field of feminist research presents both opportunities and challenges but this too must be approached with a certain eye to political strategizing. After all, internal divisions within the field detract from claiming space (within academia, within any given discipline) and from attending to the research and teaching that drew us as scholars-practitioners to feminist research in the first place. Like measuring ‘successful inclusion’ in cities, though, evaluating the inclusion of feminist work in geography requires a nuanced analysis. In both cases, evaluation of the work -and the work itself- is neither easy, nor is it ever complete.