I am Jen Jack Gieseking, an urban and digital cultural geographer, and environmental psychologist. I am engaged in research on how co-productions of space and identity in digital and material environments support and/or inhibit social, spatial, and economic justice. I am Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Kentucky, where I teach courses on digital, feminist, and queer geographies, as well as critical cartography and mapping.
My first monograph, A Queer New York: Geographies of Lesbians, Dykes, and Queers, 1983-2008 (NYU Press, 2020), is a historical geography of contemporary lesbian-queer society and economies in New York City. I draw upon in-person and online mixed methods with lesbians and queers, and archival research that spans the AIDS crisis to the appearance of The L Word television show. Rather than taking the traditional approach to LGBTQ spaces as merely bars, neighborhoods, and cities, I argue that women and trans and gender non-conforming people (TGNCP) produce urban space in the form of constellations that are both racialized and classed. It is in/through constellations that the material and imagined places understood as lesbian-queer serve as nodes between which participants make their embodied paths through the city. This queer feminist theoretical contribution to cultural geography demonstrates the role lesbians and queers played in gentrification, and also how the structures of white cis-heteropatriarchal capitalism fed their vision of “gayborhoods” and profited from their myth of territorial liberation.
My mixed ethnographic / archival approach resulted in his rethinking the construction of “data” to produce a series of LGBTQ data visualizations about queer history, a project of visualizing the invisible. As part of my commitment to public queer history, I created a companion website including interactive maps of over 3,000 lesbian and queer places and organizations I gathered from archival sources. The An Everyday Queer New York website will also include teaching and research ideas and, eventually, virtual tours through NYC lesbian-queer-trans history for the maps.
As of 2021 and after devoting myself to a year’s worth of trans activism, I have temporally shelved my research on trans people’s use of Tumblr as a site of cultural production, and a hub for co-produced medical knowledge. Instead, I’m happily working on a wee book on dyke bars.
As a side project, I bi-annually update a Gender, Sexuality, and Space Reading List, extending the work I contributed to for years in restructuring the 25+-year old Gender & Geography Bibliography. I co-edited The People, Place, and Space Reader (Routledge, 2014) with William Mangold, Cindi Katz, Setha Low, and Susan Saegert. I have held fellowships with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation as German Chancellor Fellow; The Center for Place, Culture, and Politics; The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies; and the Woodrow Wilson Women’s Studies Dissertation Fellows Program.
I am Managing Editor of ACME: International Journal of Critical Geography, the only fully open access journal in geography, as well as a board member of the Rainbow Heritage Network and contributor to the National Parks Service’s LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History. I use he/him/his and they/them/their pronouns.