Academic journal article The Canadian Geographer

Suzanne Mackenzie Memorial Lecture: Feminist Geography, the 'Everyday', and Local-Global Relations: Hidden Spaces of Place-Making *

Academic journal article The Canadian Geographer

Suzanne Mackenzie Memorial Lecture: Feminist Geography, the 'Everyday', and Local-Global Relations: Hidden Spaces of Place-Making *

Article excerpt

Dans le domaine de la geographie feministe, la production de connaissances a longtemps ete dependante d'un interet particulier pour l'experience vecue des femmes et de leurs activites routinieres, mondaines et prises pour acquis. Je revisite le concept du <> qui s'ouvre sur de nouvelles pistes de recherche pour les geographes qui tentent d'eclairer la complexite des rapports locaux-globaux a partir d'un cadre conceptuel du rythme accelere de l'etendue des relations sociales dans l'espace. En portant une attention particuliere aux travaux feministes sur les soins a domicile, j'explore de quelle facon les significations et l'organisation des activites entourant la prestation de soins sont subtilement liees aux notions entrelacees de la mondialisation, du neoliberalisme, du conservatisme social et du vieillissement de la population en Occident. Dans ma discussion, les questions relatives au sexe sont mises a l'avant-plan. Je procede a une recension de la litterature en reprenant quelques exemples de recherche pour illustrer comment les divers modes de prestation de soins <> peuvent creer le lieu contemporain et permettent de mieux comprendre le milieu local.


Suzanne Mackenzie was an important friend and colleague as I entered the world of geography in the 1980s. Her work had strongly influenced my own as I did my PhD at Simon Fraser University, and those of you who knew her will remember the warm and vital spirit she brought to Canadian geography and geographers. I am reminded of the legacy of Suzanne's feminist work through these biennial lectures, a legacy that spills well beyond our Canadian borders. In my lecture today, I will take up some of the continuities and developments in feminist geography that are associated with this early work--particularly that related to the ongoing significance of the 'everyday' in constructing the categories of geographical explanation.

There is a lot of 'new' geography around. The influences of postmodernism, post-structuralism, the cultural turn and the 'performative movement' have resulted in what is known in the public relations world as re-branding--the new cultural geography, new critical urban geography, new medical geography or health geography, and third wave and post-feminisms. Common among them is an interest in the fluidities of identities and places, of diversity and difference--as the world presents a changing stage for re-evaluating what we have known. There is an energy and excitement, too, as geography explores boundary crossings with other disciplines and within itself. Yet, it seems the 'abstract subject' who features in much of this work is in danger of losing its grounding. Recent reviews in Progress in Human Geography call for a return to a focus on the materiality of 'the everyday', by way of ethnographic methods, in the service of theory building (Lees 2003; Rankin 2003; Hart 2004).

Much feminist geography has not lost sight of the everyday. Indeed, a focus on the everyday remains critical to feminist geographers' contribution to developing what Suzanne Mackenzie considered an 'adequate model' of the environment. We need close attention to the spaces of everyday life to keep women visible in rapidly changing world conditions, where their activities tend to slip into the shadows of dominant models in the literature. But more than that, taking a route through the routine, taken-for-granted activity of everyday life in homes, neighbourhoods and communities can tell us much about its role in supporting social, cultural and economic shifts--as well as helping us see how the 'local' is structured by wider processes and relations of power. Attention to the local, therefore, provides a methodological entry point to theorising the operation of processes at various scales--from the body to the global.

Today, I revisit feminist geography's engagement of the everyday. I explore current work grounded in local experiences and activity that contributes to the opening up of categories of explanation in the shifting terrains of 'new' geographies. …

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