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Laura Shillington, PhD

Lecturer, Geography, Planning and Environment


Dr. Shillington has a B.Sc. (Geography, 1997) from the University of Victoria, a M.Sc. (Forestry 2002) from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and completed a Ph.D. in Geography from York University. In 2008-09 she held a postdoctoral fellowship in Mexico City at the Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). She has taught geography and urban studies at York University (Toronto) and Carleton University (Ottawa). Dr. Shillington is also faculty in Geosciences at John Abbott College. In addition to her academic experience, she has also worked as a consultant in gender, environment and development, and is an active member in community social-environmental issues. At present she is assisting in the development of a local a food charter for a NDG in Montreal.

Research interests

Nature-society theory
Urban Political Ecology, Environmental Justice
Feminist geography
Urban Agriculture
Food Justice
Geographies of home and everyday
Urban geographies of the global south
Children's geographies

Dr. Shillington's research programme broadly explores urban social-nature relations. It addresses two interrelated issues. First, there is a need to understand cities as both social and 'natural' (ecological) spaces. Second, cities are produced through socio-ecological processes, but the resulting urban natures are uneven (both within and outside city limits). Her research attends to these issues by asking how we can alter the uneven production of urban natures to create more socially and ecologically just cities. In particular, she is interested in understanding how everyday life in urban areas, especially in mundane spaces such as the home, is embedded within multi-scalar ecological politics - from gendered human-nature relations in the household to uneven urban environmental problems and governance structures - and how paying attention to this embeddedness might help inform more just sustainability efforts. She concentrates in particular on gendered and racialised experiences and knowledges of urban natures. In this regard, my research draws on urban political ecology, environmental justice, critical urban theories, and feminist geographies (especially feminist science studies). Dr. Shillington has focused on several urban environmental issues: urban agriculture and urban food justice; the politics of water, garbage and sanitation; and children and nature.


Teaching activities

Current teaching

URBS 338: Urban Ecology
GEOG398: Urban Agriculture

Academic service

Dr. Shillington is Vice-Chair of the sub-group Geographic Perspectives on Women. She is also co-managing the gender and geography bibliography (http://www.spatiallyinclined.org/gendergeog/).


Research activities

Current research projects

Dr. Shillington currently has two research projects. The first is a collaborative project with Women in Cities International. This research project aims to understand how women negotiate environmental challenges in their everyday lives and spaces, how this impacts their health and safety in cities, and what these challenges mean for broader urban environmental (sustainability) governance. The project examines issues around access to water, sanitation services, and garbage collection. It draws on the "Gender Inclusive Cities Programme" executed by Women in Cities International to extend the issue of safety and inclusion to incorporate environmental concerns in the daily lives of women, especially in the cities of the global south. More specifically, the project will adapt the Women's Safety Audit methodology as a tool to assess an urban environmental justice audit. The second research project is an exploration into the politics of children and nature in cities. This research addresses the question of how and by whom has urban nature been represented and produced in children's spaces in cities. It asks what sorts of natures are produced for children. Drawing on more recent work on re-materialising urban geography, theories of culture-nature and urban political ecology, the research asks how it might be possible to create more urban natures for children rather than recreate an ideal rural nature, and how those natures can contribute to a more just sustainable city for children.


Selected publications

  1. Shillington, L. (2013) Right to Food, Right to the City: Household Urban Agriculture, the Social-Ecological Production of Urban Space in Managua, Nicaragua. Geoforum 44(1): 103-111.
  2. Shillington, L. (2011) Urban Political Ecology in the Global South: Everyday Environmental Struggles in Managua, Nicaragua, in Tim Edensor and Mark Jayne (eds) Urban Theory Beyond 'the West': A World of Cities. Routledge, London, UK. Pp. 295-310.
  3. Shillington, L. (2008) Complex Ecologies and Cityspaces: Social-ecological Networks of Urban Agriculture, Managua, Nicaragua, in M. Redwood (ed) Agriculture in Urban Planning: Generating Livelihoods and Food Security. Earthscan and International Development Research Council (IDRC), Ottawa, ON. Pp. 201-216.
  4. Shillington, L. (2008) Being(s) in relation at Home: Corporealities, Aesthetics, and Socialnatures in Managua, Nicaragua. Social and Cultural Geography 9(7): 755-776.

Forthcoming

  1. Shillington, L. and A.M. Murnaghan (in review) Urban Political Ecologies and Children's Geographies: Towards an Ecological Politics of Childhood, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (20pp.).

Recent book reviews

  1. (2014) "Reconfiguring the Natures of Childhood" by Affrica Taylor (Routledge, London, UK), Children's Geographies 12(2).
  2. (2011) with Nathan L. Clough, "Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States" by Jules Boykoff, Human Geography 4(2).
  3. (2009) "Participatory Action Research Approaches and Methods: Connecting People, Participation and Place," eds. Sara Kindon, Rachel Pain and Mike Kesby (Routledge, London, UK), Gender Place and Culture 16(2).

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