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Risa Whitson

Risa Whitson, portrait
Professor and Director of Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Lindley N263, Athens Campus

Office Hours

Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to noon, or by appointment


Risa Whitson in OHIO News

Forum Archives


Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, 2004


  • Gender and development
  • Social geographies
  • Informal sector
  • Argentina

My scholarship and teaching interests are situated at the intersection of three sub-fields of human geography: geographies of development, social geography, and feminist geography. The majority of my work contributes to these sub-fields by addressing the ways that the non-standard labor relations, and in particular informal work, constitute an important element of changing economic structures (or development broadly defined). My research also analyzes the processes by which informal work is mutually constituted with gender, place, and unequal power relations. In other words, I employ informal work as a lens to analyze the way that economic activity has implications for, and is itself constituted by, non-economic social processes.

To date, the majority of my research has taken place in the context of contemporary Argentina with a focus on informal work. My most recent projects explore public debates over waste and informal waste recycling (scavenging) in Buenos Aires and the role of gender discourses in direct sales work in the United States. I am also currently working on new research that addresses the intersection of development and feminist geography through the lens of biological reproduction. My teaching areas include Introduction to Human Geography, Social Geographies, Qualitative Research Methods, and a Seminar in Gender and Development. I also have a joint appointment with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, where I teach introductory courses as well as an upper-division class in Global Feminisms.

Courses Taught

  • GEOG 1200: Introduction to Human Geography
  • GEOG 3270/5270: Social Geographies
  • GEOG 5711: Qualitative Research Methods in Geography
  • GEOG 6430: Graduate Seminar in Gender and Development
  • WGSS 1000: Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • WGSS 4100/5100: Global Feminisms

Representative Publications

Klimpel, Jill, and Risa Whitson. Forthcoming. “Narrating Birth and Place: Spatial discourses of cesarean birth in São Paolo, Brazil.” Gender, Place, and Culture, forthcoming.

Jin, Xiuming, and Risa Whitson. 2014. “‘Traditional Chinese Girls’ in a Modern Place: Gender and Public Leisure Spaces in Contemporary Beijing.” Social and Cultural Geography 15(4): 449-469.

Whitson, Risa. 2011. “Negotiating Place and Value: Geographies of Waste and Scavenging in Buenos Aires.” Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography 43(4): 1404-1433.

Whitson, Risa. 2010. “‘The reality of today has required us to change’: Negotiating gender through informal work in contemporary Argentina.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 100(1): 159-181.

Whitson, Risa. 2007. “Hidden Struggles: Spaces of Power and Resistance in Informal Work in Urban Argentina.” Environment and Planning A 39(12): 2916-2934.

Selected Student Projects

Rudaba Nasir, M.A. in International Affairs -International Development Studies, 2013, “The Impact of Social Media on the Identities and Empowerment of Women in Diaspora Communities: A Case Study of Pakistani Muslim Women in New York City”

Monica Thuney, M.A. in International Affairs - Latin American Studies, 2012, “‘La Vida es Dura’: Understanding Human Rights and Chronic Kidney Disease inside a Nicaraguan Sugarcane Community”

Jill Klimpel, M.A. in Geography, 2011, “Performing Modernity through Birth: Exploring High Rates of C-Sections in São Paulo, Brazil”

Xiuming Jin, M.A. in Geography, 2011, “Gender Roles in the Public Sphere: A Study on Chinese Women's Leisure Spaces in Beijing”

Marina Islas, M.A. in Geography, 2010, “Se Hace Camino al Andar/The Road is Made by Walking: Women's Participation in Community-Driven Development in Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua”

Melissa Myers, M.A. in International Affairs - Latin American Studies, 2010, “Mujeres Fuertes: Strong Women in Environmental Work on the U.S.-Mexico Border”