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Unsettling feminist geopolitics: forging feminist political geographies of violence and displacement

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Feminist geopolitics has analyzed violence across scales and critiqued the dominant epistemology of political geography for almost two decades. What theoretical and political purchase does it have today, given the potpourri of perspectives and reimaginings of the idea? Current research on violence, human displacement and the security of people out of place is used to explore answers to this question, finding that feminist political geography – a bigger tent than just feminist geopolitics – is indispensable to geographical thinking. Recent non-human feminist geopolitics of ‘earthliness’ offer an original theoretical departure from what has come before, though truncate political possibilities by refusing to engage the individuated subjects of ‘conventional’ feminist geopolitics. Feminist geopolitics and its consonant concepts remain relevant to addressing the fast violence of war, displacement, detention and the attendant waiting, or slow violence, that these power relations imply. Feminist geopolitics can and has been enriched by critical work on subaltern geopolitics and post-secular geographies and is shown to be vital to understanding human displacement for those living in the postcolonies of the global South. A case study of private refugee sponsorship to Canada is critically analyzed as one pathway out of protracted displacement. While resettlement is valorized by states and their civil societies as a laudable ‘solution’ offering permanent protection, a feminist geopolitical analysis exposes the Canadian Government’s racialized preferences and prejudice against Sub-Saharan African asylum seekers, masked as geography. The research presented exposes some of the Orientalist assumptions that frame and figure private refugee sponsorship. Taking this Orientalist critique and these additional literatures into the fold of feminist geopolitics, ‘feminist political geography’ offers a larger umbrella under which to collaborate, innovate, and intervene in political struggles that interrupt salient geopolitics and state discourse across world regions and inhibit violence wherever possible.
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Keywords: Displacement; Feminist geopolitics; Refugees; Scale; Sponsorship; Violence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Refugee Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: January 2, 2019

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