School of Geography

Dr Sydney Calkin

Sydney

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow and Lecturer in Human Geography

Email: s.calkin@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 3153
Room Number: Geography Building, Room 107

Profile

I am an interdisciplinary feminist social scientist with interests in political geography and International Relations. My research explores themes of gender, reproduction, inequality, and political boundaries. I joined QMUL in September 2019 from the Geography Department at Durham University where I worked from 2015-2019. At QMUL, I am a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow and Lecturer with an additional affiliation to the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences.
 
I am currently working on a project about the geographies of cross-border abortion access, pro-choice activism and state reproductive control. I’m interested in the technological, medical, and political trends that are expanding abortion access beyond traditional state boundaries, as well as the ways states respond to these newer supra-national patterns of access. I am motivated by an intellectual interest in the political and economic processes that sustain gender inequalities and a personal commitment to feminist political change and reproductive justice.

Teaching

During the 2019-2020 academic year, I will teach on GEG5135 Health, Space & Justice and GEG7120 Geographical Thought and Practice.

I welcome prospective doctoral researchers who want to work on issues related to feminist politics, reproductive rights and justice, political geography, and feminist science and technology studies. If interested, please contact me with a CV and short summary of your proposed project.

Research

Research Interests:

My current research looks at the political geographies of abortion access. This work is supported by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship (2017-2020). Control over fertility is an essential component of women’s equality in political, economic, and social domains. However, some 40% of the world’s women live in states with restrictive abortion laws. Even in states where abortion is technically legal, a variety of extra-legal obstacles mean that access is contingent on factors like wealth and mobility. As a Political Geographer, I ask questions about the power relations that govern abortion and the spatial dimensions of its access.
 
Political, technological, and medical changes at the state and global levels are currently transforming the ways that women can access abortion in states with restrictive laws. For my research, the most interesting technological change is the growing availability of safe abortion with pills. Self-managed abortion with pills, assisted by telemedical consultation, offers a spatial re-arrangement of abortion care and challenges the political/ legal structures that have historically been used to regulate abortion. It also creates the possibility that restrictive abortion laws will become effectively unenforceable. In countries with extremely restrictive laws activists are facilitating access to medication abortion pills that can move discretely across borders and provide a safe but clandestine abortion in diverse settings. In doing so, they are challenging state control over reproduction in innovative and potentially transformative ways, de-coupling abortion access from a woman’s place of residence and from national legal frameworks. My work investigates the efforts by activists to widen abortion access and de-link it from the state system, as well as the state responses that aim to re-assert territorial control over reproduction. This project is focused on four countries: the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Poland, and the USA.
 
My work on abortion access has recently been published in Political Geography, Social and Cultural Geography and Gender, Place & Culture. With Kath Browne at UCD, I have an edited book forthcoming at Zed Books: After Repeal: Rethinking Abortion Politics will be out in January 2020.
 
My doctoral research was in the field of feminist political economy. This research explored the ‘Gender Equality as Smart Economics’ in global development policy, specifically the World Bank and its gender-focused corporate partnerships. In an era of widespread government and private-sector interest in the economic empowerment of women, my research examined the intellectual roots of ‘Smart Economics’ discourse and its current policy implications. This work was published in a 2018 monograph, Human Capital in Gender and Development.

Publications

Books

  • 2020, forthcoming. After Repeal: Rethinking Global Abortion Politics. Browne, K. and Calkin, S. (Editors). Publication in January 2020, available for pre-order from December 2019.
  • 2018. Human Capital in Gender and Development. Routledge Studies in Gender and Global Politics. London: Routledge.

Journal Articles

  • 2020, forthcoming. “Persistence and Change in Morality Policy: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Politics of Abortion in Ireland and Poland”, co-authored with Monika Ewa Kaminska. In press for Feminist Review no. 124 Special Issue on Abortion Politics in Ireland. 
  • 2019. “Towards a Political Geography of Abortion.” Political Geography. 69: 22–9.
  • 2019. “Healthcare Not Airfare! Art, Abortion and Protest in Ireland.”  Gender, Place & Culture. 26(3): 338–361.
  • 2018. “Trails and Technology: Social and Cultural Geographies of Abortion Access”, co-authored with Cordelia Freeman. In press at Social and Cultural Geography
  • 2017. “’Disrupting’ Disempowerment: Neoliberal Feminism and the Private Governance of Gender and Development.” New Formations, special issue on ‘Righting Feminism’, 91: 69–86.
  • 2016. “Globalizing ‘Girl Power’: Corporate Social Responsibility and Transnational Business Initiatives for Gender Equality.” Globalizations 13(2): 158–172.
  • 2015. “’Tapping’ Women for Post-Crisis Development: Evidence from the 2012 World Development Report.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17(4), 611–629.
  • 2015. “Feminism, Interrupted? Gender and Development in the Age of Smart Economics.” Progress in Development Studies 15(4), 295–307.
  • 2015. “Post-feminist spectatorship and the Girl Effect: ‘Go on, really imagine her.’” Third World Quarterly 36(4), 654–669.

Book Chapters

  • 2020, forthcoming. “Abortion pills in Ireland and beyond: what can the 8th Amendment referendum tell us about the future of self-managed abortion?” in After Repeal: Rethinking Global Abortion Politics. Browne, K. and Calkin, S. (Editors).
  • 2019, forthcoming. “Human Capital Theory and Girlhoods in Development”. Chapter accepted with minor revisions for Girls in Global Development: Theoretical Contestations, Empirical Demands, Eds. Heather Switzer, Karishma Desai, and Emily Bent, Berghahn Press.
  • 2018. “The World Bank and the Challenge of Gender Mainstreaming for Feminist IPE” in Handbook on the International Political Economy of Gender. Eds. Juanita Elias and Adrienne Roberts, pp. 311–322. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

 

Supervision

I welcome prospective doctoral researchers who want to work on issues related to feminist politics, reproductive rights and justice, political geography, and feminist science and technology studies. If interested, please contact me with a CV and short summary of your proposed project.