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sexuality, geography and

  Studies of how sexualities and space are mutually constituted focusing particularly on the spatiality of the construction of sexual identities and the sexuality of space. The earliest work on sexuality and geography focused on heterosexual prostitution (e.g. Symanski, 1974). In the 1990s a significant body of research developed, firstly, on the geographies of lesbians and gay men, and latterly, on queer geographies (Bell and Valentine, 1995). This was facilitated by the development of postmodern thought within human geography which promoted a sensitivity to difference and the voice of \'the other\'. As a result of the impact of this work, the study of sexuality and geography is often assumed to be synonymous with the study of sexual dissidents, yet there is also a growing interest in geographies of heterosexualities, and sexuality is important in geographical writing on psychoanalysis. The complex theoretical links between sexuality and gender, most notably in feminist theory, mean that the two are commonly discussed in tandem (Duncan, 1996).

Work on sexuality and geography has been most prolific within the sub-disciplinary areas of urban, social and cultural geography but it is also gradually spilling out into other parts of the discipline including economic geography, political geography and medical geography, in the form of research on the pink economy, sexual citizenship and HIV/AIDS respectively (e.g. Binnie, 1997). The main strands of writing on sexuality and geography can be summarized as:

Geographies of lesbian and gay men. Lesbians and gay men lead distinct lifestyles — defined to a lesser or greater extent by their sexuality and others\' reactions to it — which have a variety of spatial expressions creating distinct social, political and cultural landscapes in some contemporary western cities. A number of studies have attempted to map these neighbourhoods and to examine gay commercial districts as sites of international lesbian and gay tourism. Knopp\'s (1992) work on gentrification by gay men has particularly contributed to analysing the role of sexuality within the spatial dynamics of capitalism.

In a famous study of lesbian and gay space in San Francisco, Castells (1983) argued that such neighbourhoods and institutions are dominated by men and that lesbians lack similar territorially based forms of community. This provoked a number of studies of lesbian space which suggest that women do create spatially concentrated communities but that these have a quasi-underground character (e.g. Adler and Brenner, 1992). While much of the work on the geographies of lesbians and gay men is located in the urban, there is an upsurge in interest in the structural limitations experienced by those living in rural areas, and the attempts of sexual dissidents to establish utopian rural \'communities\' (cf. territoriality).

The heterosexuality of everyday space. Studies (e.g. Valentine, 1993) have highlighted the fact that everyday spaces are commonly taken for granted as heterosexual, and have explored the processes through which spaces are produced in this way. For example, McDowell\'s (1995) research in merchant banks examines the disciplinary practices that regulate the performance of sexuality within the workplace. Other research has focused on the discrimination and violence experienced by sexual dissidents in heterosexual space.

Geographies of HIV/AIDS. Mapping the transmission of the HIV virus has been at the heart of medical geographers\' attempts to trace its origins and establish global typologies. This work has been criticized by sexual dissidents as irrelevant and politically dangerous. Brown (1995) has played a key role in re-focusing geographical research on AIDS (geography of) onto understanding sexual relations and issues of health and health care promotion.

Queer geographies represent a reaction against the early work on geographies of lesbian and gay men which adopted an uncritical, all-embracing conceptualization of lesbian and gay identity. Drawing heavily on social theory from outside the discipline, queer geographies have attempted to scrutinize the desirability of identity politics and to challenge notions of fixed identities, in particular by employing the concept of performativity. Attempts have also been made to utilize the theoretical insights of queer theory to think about the production of space (Bell et al., 1994).

Geographies of heterosexualities are most evident in work on prostitution which has looked at the role of moral representations, social discourses and practices in determining red light districts and marginalizing commercial sex workers (Hubbard, 1998). Geographical writing based on psychoanalytic theory has drawn on accounts of psychosexual development, sexual differences and desire, while also challenging the heterosexism evident in the writing of authors such as Lacan.

Critiques of the Discipline. Geographers working on sexuality share many of the concerns of feminist geographers about the masculinism, heteronormative and disembodied heritage of the discipline and about the operation of power within the academy (Chouinard and Grant, 1995; cf. feminist geographies). (GV)

References Adler, S. and Brenner, J. 1992: Gender and space: lesbians and gay men in the city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 16: 24-34. Bell, D. and Valentine, G. 1995: Mapping desire: geographies of sexualities. London: Routledge. Bell, D., Binnie, J., Cream, J. and Valentine, G. 1994: All hyped up and no place to go. Gender, Place and Culture: a Journal of Feminist Geography 1: 31-47. Binnie, J. 1997: Invisible Europeans: sexual citizenship in the new Europe. Environment and Planning A 29: 237-48. Brown, M. 1995: Ironies of distance: an ongoing critique of geographies of AIDS. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 13: 159-83. Castells, M. 1983: The city and the grassroots. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Chouinard, V. and Grant, A. 1995: On being not even anywhere near the project: ways of putting ourselves in the picture. Antipode 27: 137-66. Duncan, N., ed., 1996: BodySpace: destabilizing geographies of gender and sexuality. London: Routledge. Hubbard, P. 1998: Sexuality, immorality and the City: red-light districts and the marginalisation of female street prostitutes. Gender, Place and Culture: a Journal of Feminist Geography 5: 55-76. Knopp, L. 1992: Sexuality and the spatial dynamics of capitalism. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10: 651-69. McDowell, L. 1995: Bodywork. In D. Bell and G. Valentine, eds, Mapping desire: geographies of sexualities. London: Routledge. Symanski, R. 1974: Prostitution in Nevada. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 64: 357-77. Valentine, G. 1993: (Hetero)sexing space: lesbian perceptions and experiences of everyday spaces. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 11: 395-413.

Suggested Reading: Bell and Valentine (1995). Binnie, J. and Valentine, G. 1998: Geographies of sexuality: a review of progress. Progress in Human Geography.



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