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Genders, Spaces, Places  

Lynne Phillips

The concepts of gender, space, and place have significant social and political implications for the kind of world that people inhabit and the kinds of lives we can lead. That there has been a transformation in thinking about these concepts is indicated in references today to pluralized (and polymorphic) spaces, to the waxing, and waning of distinctions between space and place, and to the idea that gender, space, and place are something produced rather than simply lived in, or ventured into. These subtle shifts hint at a complex history of ideas about what constitutes gender, space, and/or place and how we might understand the connections and disjunctures between and among them. The theoretical roots of space act as the starting point for discussion, since these have a longer historical record than work which also explicitly includes gender. Western conceptions of space have drawn primarily from early Greek philosophers and mathematicians, and these conceptions indicate an early distinction between a philosophy of space and a pre-scientific notion of space. From here, the development of feminist methods has become essential for revealing how spatial thinking informs ideas about gender. These methods include deconstructing canons, asking the profoundly spatial question of “Where are the women?” and “ungendering” space. These methodological strategies reveal the extent to which the central concerns of feminism today have spatial and place-based dimensions.