Feminism and the City? magazine: In conversation with the editors
Earlier this month, GRRIPP launched Feminism and the City? magazine, a digital publication dedicated to exploring whether and how to link feminism and the city. Contributions include photography, poems, reflections, A-Zs, and theoretical considerations of feminism and the city from Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, Southern Africa and beyond. Download and read it here: https://www.grripp.net/digitalmagazine
We asked editors Hanna Ruszczyk, Ksenia Chmutina, and Belen Desmaison what inspired the publication and some of the key messages they’ve taken away from the interesting contributions.
As well as editors of this exciting new magazine, you are all core GRRIPPers – tell us briefly about your roles on the project.
Hanna: My GRRIPP role is to stimulate conversations between different groups and to explore how we think about infrastructure, gender, resilience, policy and practice.
Belen: I’m part of the team that coordinates the activities, research, events, and outputs in the Latin American and Caribbean region. We focus on exploring the link between intersectionality, care, and territory in their social, cultural, and environmental dimensions.
Ksenia: I am the Resilience Theme lead, and so my role is to encourage broader thinking in and challenging of what has now become an overused and politically manipulated concept of resilience.
Images, from left: 1- Hanna; 2- Belen; 3- Ksenia
How did you get the original idea for the themes of the magazine?
[All]: The foundation of the discussion was a series of five webinar conversations we hosted in November 2021 – January 2022 on the topic of feminism and the city. These conversations, which included 28 speakers and organisers, created an exciting debate about how – and if – to link feminism to the city. We listened and learnt from very different regional, disciplinary, personal perspectives.
The magazine came after (and was inspired by!) the conversation series, and the themes you can now read about came out organically from the contributors, we were not prescriptive.
In fact, we didn’t anticipate most of these themes - as we didn’t anticipate having a question mark at the end of the title! All we did was to pose some questions:
How are you thinking about feminism and the city?
What is the range of concepts that you use to think through the feminist city?
What values do different concepts bring?
What does feminism and the city mean in practice?
How are you engaging with / responding to / implementing elements of the feminist city?
What are the emerging sources of inspiration and tensions for our collective future?
The answers led to the themes – so diverse and so brilliant.
What are some of the core messages from the collection as a whole?
[All]: The digital magazine and the five conversation events made clear that we need to reject universality. At times, we talk about feminism and cities as something that is understood and accepted by all; but what the conversations demonstrated so well is that, if we are to answer the questions we posed, we need multiple epistemes and multiple voices, understanding “feminism” and “city ” in a plurality of ways and, in some cases, questioning feminism itself by embracing other ways of knowing and diverse claims towards fairer collective futures.
[Hanna]: People’s desire to contribute to the magazine and the effort they put into their contributions made it clear to me that there is a hunger for engaging with these topics. Everyone put significant time and energy into their pieces.
[Ksenia]: Adding to that, to me, the core message was that instead of talking about feminist cities we should be focusing on cities without patriarchical norms. The themes of playfulness and fun, hopes and dreams, interaction, care and time - they sound so obvious, but they are so important. What was also prominent is the explicit call to resist identities and behaviours that are imposed on us by cities, and to challenge the “norms” that set those identities. So how do we disrupt these norms, when in the context of capitalism and patriarchy, cities are turned into stages to enhance them through objectification and commodification? How do we instead reclaim the cities as locations of possibilities?
[Belen]: The diversity of ways of engaging with these questions - as depicted in the magazine - call for the necessity to explore different ways of understanding, communicating, knowing, and experiencing the city and the struggles towards fairer and more just societies. It is about promoting alternative ways of thinking beyond the academic language which can also preclude voices from being heard. This experience - both the seminars and the magazine - expressed, to me, the necessity to rethink and revalue how we, as researchers, interact with different ways of being and knowing in more inclusive and more easily accessible platforms .
The design is stunning (shout out to Nilanjana Mannarprayil for her creative talents)! You can see from the opening pages that there are lots of different ways it can be read – what tips do you have on approaching it?
[All]: There are 3 ways to read this magazine! The 3 pathways include:
Pathway 1: Alphabetical – A journey of 24 concepts
Pathway 2: Colour – A journey of themes including representation, infrastructure, de/colonialism, housing and lastly theory and world view
Pathway 3: Pattern – A journey of representation including visual, textual and emotive
We would suggest playing around, dipping into the magazine at your leisure. There are 24 contributions over 186 pages!
As editors, you’ve had a chance to closely read all contributions. Are there any specific ideas, themes or new things that you’ve learnt along the way?
[Hanna]: I have learnt how thinking about feminism and the city has multiple perspectives that point to the desire for more caring and just societies.
[Ksenia]: So many!!! Every single piece was different, and it just highlighted for me once again that what we need is the rejection of universality. We talk about feminism and cities as something that's understood and accepted by all; but what these contributions demonstrated so well is that, we need multiple epistemes and multiple voices. Universality rejects differences - and we must resist it.
[Belen]: Not confusing what I’m about to say with universality, I celebrate the similarities between all contributions. They come from vastly different contexts, experiences, and knowledges, yet they all share common struggles and the demand for fairer futures. Bringing these different voices together makes me realise the strength in knowing and engaging with other voices and groups claiming their rights as their struggles and worries are also ours.
How can people get in touch with you or the authors if they want to discuss more?
We would love to hear what readers think of the magazine and of the five conversations. There is so much more we could talk about!
Here are our details:
Hanna: Twitter @Hruszczyk or email email@example.com
Ksenia: Twitter @kschmutina or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Belen: Twitter @BelenDesmaison or email email@example.com
Image and design credit: Nilanjana Mannarprayil