IGU - HOME OF GEOGRAPHY PUBLICATION SERIES
GENDERED CITIES: IDENTITIES, ACTIVITIES, NETWORKS.
A life-course approach
The sixth volume of the Home of Geography Publication Series assembles a selection
of papers presented at a conference organised by the IGU Commission on Gender and
Geography on “Gendered Cities: Identities, activities, networks. A life-course
approach” held in Rome at the end of May 2003. This seminar addressed the
gendered nature of identities, activities, and networks in cities, focussing on
different stages of the life course. The programme presented a variety of themes
within the triad “identities, activities, networks” and focused on diverse groups: children, youth, adults and the elderly, in different class, ethnic, minority and immigrant groups in cities around the world.
The gendered character of urban life and urban structures and the heterogeneous mix of people to be
found in cities around the world have always fascinated feminist geographers. Today, the emphasis has
shifted towards issues of identities, feelings and experiences. Women are now not primarily seen as
“women”, but rather as persons with multiple identities in terms of ethnicity, nationality, age, sexual
orientation, and ability.
This emphasis has emerged partly as a result of global migration and other expressions of globalisation. The most important achievement of the seminar was the blurring of the boundaries between “first” and “third” world geography, between theory and empiricism, between identity and activity-focused research, and between quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
The papers in this volume highlight the problems, inequalities and contradictions of women’s life in cities. They clarify at the same time the improvements in the living conditions of women in many cities in terms of visibility, identity, activity, safety and network formation. Cities are highly gendered, but their gendered nature does not always imply subordination, exclusion, deprivation and sadness. Feminist activism and feminist urban research have resulted in some improvements in urban structures, urban life and urban policy from a feminist perspective.
Chapter 1 - IDENTITIES
Urban planning and women’s sense of place in a historical neighbourhood of Barcelona.
Anna Ortiz, Maria Dolors Garcia-Ramon and Maria Prats.
Gendered cities: notions of comfort, belonging and commitment in London
and Jerusalem. Tovi Fenster.
‘Pregnancy chic’: pregnant bodies in public places ten years on.
Robyn Longhurst and Amanda Banks.
Rethinking women’s bodies; from uniforms to sexual freedom. Sorina Voiculescu.
Safe city. Discourses on women’s fear in safer cities programmes. Carina Listerborn.
Identities, generations and gendered social boundaries among South Asians in Nairobi,
Kenya. Pascale Herzig.
The bonnes in the district of Bamako, Mali. Maria Laura Pappalardo
and Paola Marazzini.
Part 2 – ACTIVITIES
Gender differences and urban residential mobility; first results of the ‘housing,
household, habitat’ project. Gisella Cortesi, Marco Bottai and Michela Lazzeroni.
Housing and opportunities of Finnish dual-career families. Taru Järvinen.
The presence and role of women in the Italian University of Catania.
Caterina Cirelli and Silvia Malafarina.
Daily urban mobility and gender differences: methods and tools.
Marco Bottai, Piervirgilio Parrella and Nicola Salvati.
(Re)constituting the “urban” through women’s life histories. Dina Vaiou.
Part 3 – NETWORKS
Social-support networks of older men and women in urban and in rural environments in
the Netherlands. Marieke van der Meer.
The creation of intercultural places and relations in the urban context; the
challenge of Swiss and foreign women in the agglomeration of Lausanne. Marina Marengo.
Similarities and differences in demographic structures and social networks among
Filipino immigrant women in Rome and Toronto. Flavia Cristaldi and Joe T. Darden.
Gendered urban policy-making; the role of geographical scale in women’s participation
in Hungarian local governments. Judit Timár.
The Commission on Gender and Geography of the International Geographical Union is an active Commission of about 400 members from 60 countries around the world. It organises one or two meetings each year on a variety of themes. It has produced several publications since its foundation as an IGU Study Group in 1988. A ten-page newsletter and a website with information on the Commission’s activities stimulate the cohesion and communication within the Commission and between the Commission and the outside world.
In May 2003, the Commission on Gender and Geography of the International Geographical Union organised in Rome an International Seminar entitled “Gendered cities: identities, activities, networks. A life-course approach”. This seminar aimed to present the state-of-the-art in feminist urban geography. It addressed the gendered nature of identities, activities, and networks in cities, focussing on different stages of the life course. Both the sad and bright sides of urban life were discussed. The programme of the seminar presented a variety of themes within the triad “identities, activities, networks”. In short, the seminar focussed on the gendered nature of how people in cities feel, what they do, and how they relate to others. Identities, images, experiences, feelings, the use and creation of urban spaces, appropriation of and exclusion from urban domains, danger, safety and excitement, residential mobility, household arrangements, participation in productive, reproductive and leisure activities, transport, mobility, networks, institutions and urban activism were discussed. The programme focused on diverse groups: children, youth, adults and the elderly in different class, ethnic, minority and immigrant groups in cities around the world. The most important achievement of the seminar was the blurring of the boundaries between “first” and “third” world geography, between theory and empiricism, between identity and activity-focused research, and between quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
Between 50 and 60 people participated in the seminar; 37 of them were (co)authors of one of the 30 presented papers. A group of Italian and foreign Master students participated in the audience. The participants came from 18 different countries, mainly in Europe (Belgium, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom), but also from Israel, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Because of the SARS epidemics and the war in Iraq several participants from China, Taiwan and the United States decided not to travel. Many participants were young; PhD students or lecturers at the start of their academic career presented twelve papers.
The participants appreciated the cultural diversity of the presentations with the mixture of developing countries and western countries and presentations from Anglophone and non-Anglophone academic traditions. Many comments referred to the broad variety in methodology, both quantitative (with large new data sets on thousands of households) and qualitative (such as in-depth interviews and systematic observations in public spaces) or combinations of both. They welcomed the combination of conceptual thinking and empirical work. In particular, the conceptual work on themes such as the home, the body, transnationalism and the focus on life course and generations were appreciated as innovative.
This volume presents a selection of 16 of the presented papers. The first seven papers focus on identities, senses and experiences of belonging of women in public urban space; the next five deal with life activities and household strategies in cities; the last four papers focus on women in urban networks and organisations.
For a copy of this volume, please
contact Dawn Bissell at the Home of Geography, Rome, at e-mail: email@example.com. Cost: Euro 18 within Italy, euro 22 for overseas orders (post
and packing included)