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Gendered Performances in Swedish Forestry: Negotiating Subjectivities in Women-Only Networks
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9162-1280
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Environmental resource use is intimately intertwined with gendered power relations. Overarching ideals, governance and management are shaped by the negotiation and performance of gendered subjectivities. This thesis identifies and analyses key features of such negotiations and performances in the context of contemporary Swedish forestry. More specifically, I examine the gendered performances of women forest owners engaged in women-only forestry networks. The study draws on qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews, participant observations, and textual analysis. From the perspective of feminist geography, the study builds on a poststructural feminist understanding of gender as relational, spatial, intersectional, and performative processes that influence people’s relationships with the environment. The thesis consists of a comprehensive summary and three papers in which different aspects of women forest owners’ gendered performances are addressed. In Paper I, I show how the women forest owners perform both femininities and female masculinities in ways that both challenge and endorse hegemonic forestry masculinities. In Paper II, I analyse how Swedish forest policy and governance are realised in the social domain through the negotiations and performances of the masculinist policy construct ‘the active forest owner’. Being ‘active’ mainly entailed an orientation towards industrial timber production but was also challenged in the women-only network spaces to also include feminine-coded social and/or environmental values based on an ethics of care. In Paper III, I focus on the tension around the framing of women-only networks as feminist and/or gender equality projects. I argue that the women’s reluctance to politicise their collective action are gendered performances based on a postfeminist sensibility, articulated, and maintained through various discursive moves. Throughout the papers, I also show how the women’s performances are permeated by spatialities and spatial power relations in different ways. The findings contribute to the overlapping fields of feminist geography, gender studies, environmental (forest) governance, and rural studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University , 2021. , p. 100
Series
Meddelanden från Kulturgeografiska institutionen vid Stockholms universitet, ISSN 0585-3508 ; 159
Keywords [en]
gender, femininity, female masculinity, feminist geography, feminist political ecology, environmental governance, forestry, neoliberalisation, collective action, postfeminism, spatiality, rurality, Sweden
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-192528ISBN: 978-91-7911-436-7 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7911-437-4 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-192528DiVA, id: diva2:1546539
Public defence
2021-06-10, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, and online via Zoom, public link is available at the department website, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2021-05-18 Created: 2021-04-22 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Performing female masculinities and negotiating femininities: Challenging gender hegemonies in Swedish forestry through women’s networks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Performing female masculinities and negotiating femininities: Challenging gender hegemonies in Swedish forestry through women’s networks
2020 (English)In: Gender, Place & CultureArticle in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper addresses the discursive and spatial constructions of female masculinities and femininities in separate networks for women forest owners in Sweden. Based on qualitative research conducted with members of six such networks, I explored the spatial negotiations and performances of femininities and female masculinities in relation to hegemonic forestry masculinities. I found that the separate spaces provided by the networks enabled the women to find strategies by which to navigate the spatial relations permeated by hegemonic forestry masculinity, which empowered them to resist the subordinate position of hegemonic femininity and to ‘claim space’. The women claimed this space by asserting alternative femininities and performing embodied female masculinities conceptualized as ‘the tough forest owner’ and the ‘entrepreneurial forest owner’ to gain access to both symbolic and material spaces, including the category of ‘the forest owner’. The performances of female masculinities were largely conducted from other positions of privilege, such as class and heterosexuality, which included performances of hegemonic femininity. Therefore, these performances of female masculinities generated status rather than stigmatisation. Furthermore, the analysis showed how these masculinities and femininities were negotiated and performed in relation to forestry spatiality as well as rurality and urbanity. I argue that the spatial performances of alternative femininities and female masculinities challenge hegemonic masculinities in a way that disrupts the male exclusivity of the category of ‘the forest owner’, although the performances of female masculinities also reinforce the superior position of masculinities in relation to femininities.

Keywords
Femininity, female masculinity, hegemonic masculinity, rurality, forestry, Sweden
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography; Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-192520 (URN)10.1080/0966369X.2020.1825215 (DOI)
Projects
Gendered performances in Swedish forestry: Negotiating subjectivities in women-only networks
Available from: 2021-04-22 Created: 2021-04-22 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved
2. Performing ‘the active forest owner’ in neoliberalised forest governance: Negotiating gendered forest-owner subjectivities in Swedish networks for women
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Performing ‘the active forest owner’ in neoliberalised forest governance: Negotiating gendered forest-owner subjectivities in Swedish networks for women
(English)In: Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Through the lens of feminist political ecology, this paper explores how the neoliberalisation of Swedish forest governance influences the performances and negotiations of gendered subjectivities in six separate networks for women. The study draws on participant observations from network events, qualitative interviews with network members, and textual analysis of the networks’ written material. The analysis shows that the gendered forest-owner subjectivities of the network members are largely formed in relation to the discursive policy construct of ‘the active forest owner’, which should be understood as a masculinist expression of the neoliberalisation of Swedish forest governance. ‘Active’ does not refer to being physically engaged in forestry work but rather to be a knowledgeable entrepreneur oriented towards industrial timber production. Performing ‘the active forest owner’ is a way for women to become recognised as knowledgeable subjects in forestry, but it also makes them compliant subjects in neoliberalised Swedish forest governance. Nevertheless, the networks also provide spaces where the meaning of ‘active’ can be negotiated to also include feminine-coded social and/or environmental values based on an ethics of care that challenges the normative ideals of masculinity and neoliberalism. However, the narratives in the networks and the performances of individual subjectivities are often ambiguous and contain both resistance to and compliance with the status quo. These negotiations enable the formulation of alternative visions for human-nature interaction but only partly lead to changed forest management practices.

Keywords
Feminist political ecology, gender, environmental governance, neoliberalisation, forestry, Sweden
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Human Geography; Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-192524 (URN)
Projects
Gendered performances in Swedish forestry: Negotiating subjectivities in women-only networks
Available from: 2021-04-22 Created: 2021-04-22 Last updated: 2022-02-25
3. Forest feminists? Performing postfeminist subjectivities in Swedish women forest owners’ collective action
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Forest feminists? Performing postfeminist subjectivities in Swedish women forest owners’ collective action
(English)In: Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Postfeminism has received little attention within feminist geography; therefore, spatialities have been left largely unexplored in postfeminist studies. In this paper, I explore how postfeminist performances by women forest owners are articulated and maintained in relation to their collective action, paying special attention to spatiality and spatial power relations. I base my analysis on semistructured interviews with women forest owners from six separate networks for women, participant observations at network events, and an analysis of the networks’ written material. The women were reluctant to frame their separate networks as feminist and/or gender equality projects, which I argue should be understood as an expression of a postfeminist sensibility traversed by spatial power relations enacted within Swedish forestry, constituting a social and economic space associated with rurality. Feminism and gender equality were partly understood in relation to spatial power relations connected to the urban-rural dichotomy, which contributed to the articulation of individual postfeminist performances, including the use of spatial and temporal discursive moves to reject sexism and marginalisation, and consequently, the preservation of the self as emancipated while rejecting the need for feminist collective action. The analysis further unpacks how postfeminism is articulated and maintained, contributing to a broader understanding of the paradoxes of women’s collective action.

Keywords
Postfeminism, collective action, spatiality, rurality, forestry
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
Human Geography; Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-192526 (URN)
Projects
Gendered performances in Swedish forestry: Negotiating subjectivities in women-only networks
Available from: 2021-04-22 Created: 2021-04-22 Last updated: 2022-02-25

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Laszlo Ambjörnsson, Emmeline

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Citation style
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Output format
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