September 12, “A Rhizomatic Overview of Feminist Geographies”

Reading

  • Moss & Falconer Al-Hindi, An Introduction (pp. 1-27)
  • Moss & Falconer Al-Hindi, Shared Mobility (pp. 247-256)
  • Raghuram & Madge, Chapter 18 in Moss & Falconer Al-Hindi (pp. 221-229)
  • Nagar, Chapter 9 in Moss & Falconer Al-Hindi (pp. 120-129)

Sept 12 Discussion Recap

Our conversation this week began with a lively discussion about the choices made by the editors (Moss & Falconer Al-Hindi) as to how to introduce and frame their text. We discussed the accessibility of the text, most notably in terms of the language and theoretical canvas assembled by the editors. Pointing to Hanson and Monk’s claim (p. 63, Sept 5 reading) that “Communicating with audiences that are unfamiliar with feminist perspectives requires clear, jargon-free writing”, students commented that there was a certain irony to the editors’ use of Deleuzian theory to draw readers into the text. Moreover, while some students found the idea of rhizomatic thinking to be an attractive contrast from other (hierarchical) models for the way that knowledge is produced, the class seemed fairly unanimous in the contention that segmentarity was not a helpful or adequately illustrative concept. Many noted that these concepts, despite the editors’ efforts to explain them, were extremely alienating for readers, even when the readers were genuinely interested in the material.

Similarly, we talked about our own situatedness as readers and how this informs our reading of the text. The knowledge and experience that we bring to any text will influence our interpretation, as will the context in which we read the text. Thus, for some students, the editors’ reference to postcolonial texts read not as a distinct field of inquiry (which it is, and it is a field where the term “postcolonial” is contested). Instead, this reference was read as an affront to the very explicit ways in which settler colonialism operates in our day-to-day lives. Situated as we are in the lower mainland of British Columbia, many students are especially aware of, and involved in debates about, contemporary articulations and legacies of the Canadian colonial project.

The conversation generated by the readings was, in sum, the sort of reflective and thoughtful discussion that I believe the editors envisioned. Starting from these readings, we were able to talk about the field of feminist geography/ies as one that has a wide and inclusive scope and an outlook that, regardless of methodology or specific approach, locates itself within a social justice framework.

I went on to discuss the commonalities that I see across many feminist geographies: the presence of a geographic perspective and feminist epistemology; the commitment to social justice; and an appreciation for the ways that social norms are spatially produced. These are points that we will expand upon over the course of the semester.

For those who would like to write a Reading Response for Sept 19, here are three questions that you may consider to prompt your writing:

1. How do you make sense of Pratt’s “Reflections on Poststructuralism”? What is her argument, in your own words? How does “Complexity and Connection”, Pratt’s chapter that revisits “Reflections…”, relate to or illustrate this earlier writing?

2. Gökarıksel argues that the (geo)politics of the headscarf is intimate and complicated. In Istanbul (and arguably elsewhere), the politics of the headscarf and the meanings assigned to it/ its wearers are inextricably linked to subject formation (in other words, the ways that wearers understand themselves) and to the everyday spaces we inhabit. In shopping malls, Gökarıksel shows, the headscarf is marked in particular ways depending on where one is located. Discuss Gökarıksel’s argument in your own words and consider its relevance to your own experience. (This may not be about the headscarf per se, but could be about other kinds of embodied practices that are marked and carry particular meanings in different places.)

3. How do the local and the global come together in these four texts?