Lorraine Dowler

Lorraine Dowler

Email: 
Phone: 
814-863-1806
Office Address: 
203 Walker Building
Title: 
Associate Head of Undergraduate Programs
Associate Professor of Geography; Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
National Councilor, American Association of Geographers
Unit: 
Department of Geography

Expertise: 
  • political geography
  • gender
  • qualitative methods
  • feminist geospolitics

My scholarship is rooted in a feminist approach to geopolitics that enables more fluid conceptualizations of compassion, identity, and individuality as related to understanding everyday life, private spaces, and the lives of women and other marginalized groups.  Conventional geopolitics pays disproportionate attention to the immediate, dramatic, and masculine actions of statecraft, especially the advancement of arms and explosive demonstrations of force. In the early part of my career, in collaboration with Joann Sharp, I questioned how our respective research projects could expand on the then current theories of critical geopolitics, which we maintained would require engagement with feminist and postcolonial theory. Our article “A Feminist Geopolitics,” maintained the necessity for a feminist geopolitics, with its detail to everyday forms of politics.  In my current research, I expand my initial question of a feminist geopolitics. Drawing from feminist geopolitics and ethics of care literature, I propose a caring geopolitics in a world where hate fuels racist and xenophobic hate crimes; routinized forms of rape culture produce conditions for actual rape; and the slow march of economic and political exploitation incites violent resistance and, in turn, that violent reaction can be deployed to justify oppressive changes to immigration policies, and so on.

In addition to my research and scholarship, I am deeply committed to the University as a site of education to inform social change.  I believe that education is a process whereby students can be empowered to act for social justice. In my classes on cultural, feminist, and political geography, I require that learners recognize the variety of different social locations, backgrounds, and interdisciplinary knowledges while treating one another with dignity, respect, and courtesy.  In both my research and teaching, I emphasize social justice and encourage students to consider their roles in addressing issues of justice globally. In this sense, the classroom is a place of hope where students and teachers gain glimpses into possibilities and garner the tools to make them a reality.