Purpose, or The Beginning

Welcome. My name is Jen Gieseking and I am a geographer and Ph.D. Candidate in environmental psychology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

The primary purpose of this blog is to work through the question of and findings from my dissertation research project: to understand how lesbian/queer women’s everyday spaces and their associated economies in New York City have remained the same or changed over generations since 1983, and how they could do so while facing severe oppression. From a study performed in 1983, Manuel Castells (1985) argued that gay men in San Francisco developed a physical and social place/community by geographical gains intertwined with both unintentional and intentional cultural and economic shifts and decisions. The majority of research done on LGBTQ spaces since this period assumes geographical territorialization as a key tactic for gaining rights for LGBTQ people and a way of everyday queer life that creates communities of recognition and acceptance. My research begins where Castells leaves off in 1983 and, furthermore, seeks to fill the gap the literature has created by not examining how modes of oppression and resistance have shifted over time/generations in place rather than one specific LGBTQ space at one moment in time/generation. I use the terms “time” and “generation” often simultaneously because lesbians/queer women most often develop their identities as lesbians and/or queers under the tutelage of other LGBTQ person, and/or through LGBTQ music, art, literature, movies, etc. Therefore, a coherent, organized, and diverse history of most aspects of LGBTQ life has often been impossible to gather as of yet. I am specifically interested in lesbian/queer women’s spaces as these studies have been significantly less in number than studies of gay men’s spaces, and at times speak both to the oppression of women and/or queers in general. It is the aim of this research to discover the shifts in the overall oppression of and tyranny toward the lesbian/queer women population, and what forms of resistance over time/generations and which conditions for such resistance have been useful in fighting such oppression.

This blog also provides an open forum to discuss my other research interests including: the geographic concept of scale; mental mapping methodology; social/spatial (in)justice around issues of identity; social and physical campuses and their colleges; and the intersections of public space, identity, and neoliberalism. Other interests will develop over time and I will list each of these as categories on this blog, particularly methodologies of interest, aspects of pedagogy, and important news, media, and art events, stories, and works that relate to my work.

I frame my research through the theoretical concept of the geographical imagination, which is most easily defined as the spatialized cultural and historical knowledge that characterizes individuals and social groups and helps to configure how people imagine and render space. The geographical imagination can be used a tool for spatial and social justice as individuals use it to compare their personal biographies to larger social, political, and geographical structures within their specific historical era to see the connections between people across spaces and times. While I built this comprehensive definition from the readings within my second doctoral exam / orals, I seek to extend and test this definition to make it more robust and useful throughout my discussion of my research projects.

I welcome you to comment in order to provide feedback on my dissertation, research interests, and the other content I will include that is essential or closely tangential to my work.