Undergraduate Dissertation Prize
The GFGRG invites entries each year for the best undergraduate dissertation on any issue relating to geography and gender. Departments may not submit more than one entry per year. The dissertations should usually be 10,000 words or more and should be submitted as a PDF file, along with a copy of the appropriate departmental dissertation regulations and a (post-September) contact address for the student.
For any further details or questions please contact Dr Rachel Colls, Durham University [email@example.com]
Please see below for the 2021 winning or high commended entries.
Amelia Whiting, University of Edinburgh
A ‘presence in the marking of absence’: Resisting and REDressing Gendered Colonial Violence Through Art An Exploration of Jaime Black’s REDress Project as a response to Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Crisis’
This dissertation explores the decolonial possibilities of Jaime Black’s REDress art project and subsequent responses in resisting and redressing Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Crisis. Forced to endure ongoing systemic assaults rooted in colonialism, Canada’s indigenous women and girls have been the targets of gendered violence for too long. Whilst representing only 3 percent of the Canadian population, Indigenous women and girls account for almost 16 percent of Canada’s national female homicide victims (Government of Canada, 2016). Indeed, this ‘race-based genocide’ as labelled by the National Inquiry, is a critical national issue in urgent need of redress. Across Canada artists are taking up the challenge of fighting the crisis. This dissertation thus explores art’s capacity to reinstate the visibility of Indigenous women in spaces where they are constantly rendered invisible. Engaging with geographies of indigeneity and decolonial theory, my research hopes to provide a small, yet insightful contribution to the growing geographical interest in Indigenous reconciliation and futurity. My research demonstrates how art can serve as a space for Indigenous resistance and resurgence through a consideration of its more-than-representational capabilities to both affect and effect change. Whilst acknowledging the ambiguity and fragility of such artistic expressions as hopeful spaces, I demonstrate how art affectively embodies local epistemologies and ontologies, as a way to facilitate indigenous agency, advocacy and ultimately self-determination.
Key Words: Indigenous women, gendered violence, art, affect, resistance, (de)colonialism, hope, futurity, self-determination.
Harriet Powell-Cook, University College London
‘Miles from home’: A study of abortion migration from the Republic of Ireland’
Between 1967 and 2018 thousands of women travelled from Ireland to England for an abortion each year; the movement across international borders to terminate a pregnancy has been termed ‘abortion migration’. Abortion was illegal in the Republic of Ireland from 1861 to 2018. During this time, in 1983, abortion became constitutionally criminalised under Article 40.3.3 (the 8th amendment). In England, the procedure was legalised in 1967. The difference in law and the geographical proximity of the countries meant that the journey occurred frequently. This dissertation aims to explore how the abortion ban was resisted through mobility and the effects of this mobility on nationalism, resistance and identity. In 2016 a Citizens’ Assembly was formed to deliberate the future of the 8th Amendment. To undertake this qualitative research, I analysed submissions to the Citizens’ Assembly, alongside a Twitter campaign and activists blog posts. The research found that the theme of mobility is used by both pro- and anti- choice campaign groups in their submissions to the Assembly and online. Mobility has been used by pro-choice activism to demonstrate female agency, resistance and the damaging effects of having to travel for the medical procedure. Conversely, the anti-choice literature has portrayed abortion as anti-Irish and abortion migration as disrupting the purity of the national home. I use the data to study four key elements of abortion migration through the lens of feminist geography. Firstly, the construction of abortion as being against Irish national identity; secondly, the casting of women as both mothers and victims and the legal control over the female body; thirdly, how women challenged their societal position and resisted the abortion ban through mobility; finally, how women’s identities and feelings of belonging were affected upon returning to Ireland as a consequence of abortion migration.
Emma Pearson, Newcastle University
Employment overseas: a qualitative study into the factors shaping the experiences of female migrant domestic workers in Kuwait
The Kafala sponsorship system, adopted in countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), has received criticism from numerous organisations and external bodies of authority for enabling the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers. Kuwait, a state with a significant expatriate community, relies on migrant labourers and the employment of domestic workers in particular, has become deeply engrained in Kuwaiti society. The ongoing precarity of domestic work under the Kafala, however, is an increasing concern and this research set out to investigate what factors are shaping the experiences of domestic workers and contributing to ongoing precarity. This research was conducted using primary and secondary qualitative techniques. Through 20 semi-structured interviews, and the analysis of governmental and NGO reports and publications alongside academic literature, this study confirmed that female migrant domestic workers in Kuwait face a myriad of precarities. They are an extremely vulnerable workforce and majority of the domestic workers interviewed had, with at least one employer in Kuwait, faced a form of illegal activity, ranging from the confiscation of personal documentation to incidents of physical abuse. This research concludes that there are four key factors in particular that are influencing the experiences of domestic workers living and employed under the Kafala in Kuwait: state responsibility, the influence of wasta, employer responsibility and finally, the reliance on luck.
Key words: Migrant domestic worker, domestic worker, Kuwait, precarity, experiences.
Shoaib Ahmed, Durham University
A feminist examination of women’s embodied experiences of sexual desire in nightclub settings: scripts, affects, and forces
Using an innovative qualitative approach that blends non-representational methodology with feminist epistemologies, this research will conduct video interviews to explore ten women’s embodied experiences of sexual desire. It will focus on the production and manifestation of (hetero)sexual desire in nightclub settings, analysing how nightclub ‘forces’ foster conditions for desires to surface and transmit between bodies on the dancefloor. With a specific focus on the forces of alcohol, lighting and music, and how they form an affective assemblage that drive bodies towards more sexual behaviour, this research will bridge non-representational theories with feminist concerns around the materiality of bodies and embodiment. I will argue that there is generally a shift from sexual desires emerging through sexual scripts, via bodily forms of communication at a distance, towards desires manifesting through sexual affects, as affective forces create a throng of disinhibited, hyper stimulated bodies on the dancefloor. I will show that there is a temporal element to this shift, driven by increased levels of alcohol intoxication later in the night. This research will contribute to literature in feminist geography by putting representational theory (sexual scripts) and nonrepresentational theory (affects) into dialogue. It will avoid viewing women’s experiences of sexual desires through a medical, male-centric or risk-based discourse, as most existing work in the field does. Instead, it will create the space for women that view the nightclub as a liberatory space for self-expression, to narrate their own experiences as sexually desiring subjects.
Keywords: sexual desire, nightclubs, scripts, affect, bodies, force
Other Entries to the 2020-21 Dissertation Prize Competition:
|Rachel Sharpe||The Rise of Queens in the ‘Sport of Kings’: Addressing the various spaces where gender inequalities still exist within the British horseracing industry.||University of Dundee|
|Imaan Kotadia||“Why have I got these big chunky things coming out of me?!”: A geographical exploration into the bodily representations and experiences of menstruation and endometriosis.”||University of St Andrews|
|Mairi MacLeod||Gendered rights to the green city: women’s everyday geographies of urban green space||University of Glasgow|
|Emily Bolus||North Wales Mountain Rescue: A Feminist Geography Perspective||Bangor University|
|Holly Anstee||“Every Bloody Month: Education, Accessibility, and Experiences of Menstruation and Reusable Period Products in England”||University of Salford|
|Emmalee Higgins||Lest we forget: sites of memory and women’s place in the military.||Queen Mary University of London|
|Fiona Selwyn||An Investigation into the Relationship between Gender, Green Space and Stress: A Case Study from Cotgrave Country Park.||University of Birmingham|
|Hannah Sullivan||“Whose Knowledge? The Feminist Economic Geographies of London’s Black Cab Industry”.||University of Nottingham|
|Sarah Slate||A Gendered Crisis of Capitalism, Care and COVID-19: Working from Home in Local Government||LSE|
|Rebecca Emery-Jones||“An insight into the experiences of female students when navigating the male dominated discipline of Politics”||University of Southampton|
|Natasha Fletcher||’The older you get…the more in tune you feel with your body’: Women’s embodied negotiations with contraception through the life course in the UK’||University of Bristol|
|Maya de Paz-Pucknell||‘Office Politics’: Investigating the relationship between employee identity, performance, the ‘professionally dressed bodies of employees’ and office space.||Royal Holloway|
|Harriet Powell-Cook||‘Miles from home’: A study of abortion migration from the Republic of Ireland||UCL|
|Rachel Parker Allen||Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes at the International Criminal Court: The Trial of Dominic Ongwen in GeolegalPerspective||University of Oxford|
|Luke Shaw||The End of the Car? Centring women in efforts to reconfigure daily mobilities to aid decarbonisation of the transport sector.||University of Leicester|
|Sophie Lindsay||An Investigation into the Representation of Women in Educational Textbooks across India Using Feminist Critical Visual Discourse Analysis||Kings College London|
|Isabellla Wheatley||“Clothing, Classes and Creepy Comments. A Study on Young People’s Experiences in a Welsh Gym”||Cardiff University|
|Rebecca Beeston||Gender politics during the COVID-19 pandemic: A North East case study||Northumbria University|