Seeking red herrings in the wood: tending the shared spaces of environmental and feminist geographies

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In this article I argue the need for feminist and environmental geographers to work more diligently to find, mind and tend the intersections of their research agendas to enrich scholarship and deepen impacts on public policy. Such a project requires us to move beyond an obvious call to acknowledge one another's work and towards the boundaries of our respective fields in order to co-create ‘boundary objects’ that provide opportunities for mutual exchange, collaboration and learning. Rather than being ‘red herrings’ or diversions from our main research foci, boundary objects bring new insights to taken-for-granted concepts. I focus on one example to argue that social sustainability of rural places is better understood by an integrated understanding of what constitutes a ‘worker’ in a forestry community. A redefinition of the worker that draws on insights and interests from both environmental and feminist geographers reveals an underlying gender bias in environmental decision-making processes and illustrates how the concept of social sustainability has been artificially restricted in practice. Nevertheless, collaborations are never easy. I draw attention to potential challenges of such collaborations that include the need to establish mutually agreeable protocols, joint commitment to constructive, respectful debate and strategies to ensure that research provides meaningful contributions to theory and public policy.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5A5 ( ), Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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