Locating Gender in the Local and Transnational Discourses of Nature and Science

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Event Date: Mar 5 2009
Event Website: Event Webpage
City: Kingston, ON
Country: Canada
Primary Contact Name: Laura Cameron

On March 5th, Shubhra Gururani (York University) speaks at Queen’s University on ‘Locating Gender in the Local and Transnational Discourses of Nature and Science’. The talk is sponsored by Studies in National and International Development (SNID).

Date: Thursday, March 5th
Place: Mackintosh Corry Hall, Room B204
Time: 1-2.30pm

Abstract: In South Asian ethnography and historiography, there are now rich and impressive accounts that map the complex and sedimented processes through which expert knowledges of plants, animals, forests, caste/tribes, and racialized bodies were mutually co-constitutive of the social categories of difference in diverse colonial settings at different historical conjunctures. While due attention has been paid to these questions of difference, there is an awkwardness about the question of gender. Gender is clearly not missing from such accounts but there remains a tendency to view gender either as a special interest group or focus on the sexual and gendered attributes of femininity and masculinity of science and nature. Critical engagements with the questions of difference have offered more complicated gendered readings of discourses, revealing ways in which ‘nature’ was gendered female, sexualized characteristics assigned to tribes, and the bodies of communities or nations were mapped onto masculinized/feminized constructs of modernity.

Rather than see nature as a dead place, and its gendering as a backdrop or effect, this paper attempts to read geographies of nation and nature together and argues that a sustained feminist reading must go beyond the uncovering of gendered and sexualized tropes, to situated engagements with the historical operations of notions of work, mobility, land, property, nature. Rather than being external to, or byproducts of, the process of nation formation, particular dynamics of gender, race, and nature have been central to and indispensable for the project of nation building from the 19th century to the present.

Featured image: Ruins in Satkhira, Bangladesh, 2019. Photo by David Baker on Unsplash.

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Laura Jean Cameron is a Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s University, Kingston, and coordinates the Sonic Arts of Place Lab. As a Canada Research Chair in Historical Geographies of Nature (2003-2012), her work has investigated a range of field sciences as place-based practices and as cultural encounters. Before arriving at Queen’s, she held a Junior Research Fellowship in Historical Geography at Churchill College, Cambridge (1999-2002). She is the author of Openings: A Meditation on History, Method and Sumas Lake, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1997 and co-author with John Forrester of Freud in Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017. She also co-edited Emotion, Place and Culture, Ashgate, 2009 and Rethinking the Great White North: Race, Nature and the Historical Geographies of Whiteness, UBC Press, 2011. Currently she enjoys writing in various genres about fieldwork, emotions and nature, collaborating on sound installations, and hosting the Fireplace Series: Interdisciplinary Conversations, a podcast series you can listen to here: https://podcast.cfrc.ca/the-fireplace-series/.

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