Gender, Sexuality, and Space by Jen Jack Gieseking

Attempts to understand the mutual co-production of space and identity have ranged across discussions of race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, nationality, and sexuality. In particular, “gender and space” and “sexuality and space” are recurring topics in the study of place and identity. For example, the Gender & Geography Bibliography has been the on-going project of dozens of scholars for nearly three decades and now lists thousands of sources. Work on sexuality grew in parallel with this body of work on gender, and often overlapped. Delving into the intersection of these three topics–gender, sexuality, and space–allows for both an interdependent and multi-layered analysis where each feeds the other. The gendering of spaces like kitchens, workplaces, or national boundaries reveals dimensions of sexuality previously invisible, and vice versa.

The recommended selections below include work that examines the co-production of gender, sexuality, and space across the disciplines. Feminist, critical race, and (eventually claimed as) queer theorists, Gloria Anzaldúa (1987), Kimberlé Crenshaw (1996), Donna Haraway (1990), and bell hooks (2004), produced respectively the concepts of borderlands, intersectionality, the cyborg, and margins which still serve as the grounding theorizations for much of the work to follow. Each of these ideas extol the multiplication of difference and crossing the seeming borderlands of differences to promote understanding.

Other topics addressed in the readings include how urban spaces have afforded greater access to higher paying positions for women and anonymity and room for difference (see D’Emilio 1983), as well as the increasing turn in the literature to consider the rural and suburban (see Gray 2009). Furthermore, the notion that ways of doing and being one’s gender and sexual flow from the urban to the rural–what Larry Brown and Michael Brown call “queer diffusions”–is also contested. Recent scholarship at the intersection of gender and sexuality seeks to uproot long assumed notions of space by helping to rethink patterns and possibilities of migration (Luibhéid 2008), the intersection of cruising and gentrification (Delany 2001), and the uneven effects of the “creative class” thesis (Muller Myrdahl 2011).

A number of selections from The People, Place, and Space Reader speak to studies of gender and space, sexuality and space, or speak to the intersection of all three topics. I encourage you to bring the readings below into conversation with this already included work by art historian Alice T. Friedman, architectural historian Dolores Hayden, historian George Chauncey, literary theorist Judith Jack Halberstam, and geographers Geraldine Pratt, Melissa Wright, Cindi Katz, Susan Ruddick, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Rob Imrie, Judith Carney, Katherine McKittrick, and Kay Anderson. For those interested in reading further, I recommend my own Gender, Sexuality, & Space Reading List which includes over hundreds of relevant sources is updated often.

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 Supported by the CUNY Doctoral Students Council.