Gender, agency, and embodiment theories in relation to space in Gender, cities and local governance

Upphovsperson: Malmström, Maria Frederika
Utgivare: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet | Cairo : Centre d’Études et de Documentation Économiques, Juridiques et Sociales (CEDEJ)
År: 2011
Språk: eng
Relation: Gouvernance locale dans le monde arabe et en Méditerranée : Quels rôles pour les femmes ? : Local Governance in the Arab world and the Mediterranean: What roles for women?
Ämnesord: urban space, gender, embodiment, agency, Theory, female circumcision
Identifikator: urn:isbn:2905838-48-5
Rättigheter: info:eu-repo/semantics/restrictedAccess
Why (and how) is it important to query into the particular lived experiences and ‘embodied agency’ of women if we want to study urban spaces through the lens of gender?  This paper discusses this overarching question in relation to recent dynamic and generative theories of gender, embodiment and agency.  This theoretical framework connects subjects’ identities to dominant discourses and social structures with the help of lived experiences.  This is particularly fruitful because it makes it possible to analyse agents within a context of social, cultural and political change.  It also means the possibility to grasp women’s narratives and body language as they engage in acts of resistance, as well as the marking of body and space.  The actions of ‘the secret self’ among younger generations, for example, give increased space and have manipulative potential as long as these ‘morally forbidden’ and dishonourable acts are not brought out into the public sphere.  This approach is relevant since it is possible to analyse the singularity of experience, not only as a form of social interaction, but as linked to social structures and discourses, which implies negotiations of tensions, conflicts and uncertainties.  The need to understand agency as the capacity to act according to the exigencies of the specific socio-cultural forms the main premise of this paper; where each context comprises the complex interaction between the local and a variety of wider global forces.  My approach is to combine experience with representation through phenomenology and ethnography.  I use experience near ethnography that begins with women’s own practices and attends to how they understand themselves, how their bodies are involved in this process and how they live out norms and ideologies in their everyday lives.  Thereby we are able to understand how women’s realities and identities are interpreted, negotiated and constructed, and how the body actively is involved in these processes.