Women Make Cities

An interdisciplinary network

How do we research how women have contributed to the making of cities?

Evidence of women's contribution to urban imaginaries, professional disciplines and community action is rarely found in coherent, neatly bundled bodies of archive material. Finding, collating and evaluating evidence is complicated by work that traverses disciplines and practices, is often piecemeal, relational or collaborative and therefore sits outwith or at the edges of canonical categorization or conventional disciplinary access and visibility.

Depending on inflection, women make cities can be read as a statement of fact, an exclamation, a question, an invitation or a call to action. This network creates a place where researchers who are interested in approaching this field can exchange knowledge, practices and surprises in inventive and rigorous ways. We are wary of generalisations and aim to challenge inherited assumptions with new insights and evidence.

The network aims to develop original in-depth research with associated interdisciplinary collaborations that acknowledge and build on creative approaches to researching women as ‘makers’ of the city: through spatial, material, creative and literary practices; through decision-making roles, and through place-based activism. The network’s innovative ‘In-residence’ model supports autonomous projects that will be shared in network events. We aim to enable speculative exploration and new theoretical approaches towards, for instance,  the feminist artefact or feminist and intersectional archival methodologies .

Themes explored through the network lens may extend understandings of the making of the city in its broadest sense: how the city is seen, gendered, socialised. The modern western European world is fundamentally a man-made environment where, for example, women were ‘placed’ in post-war designed environments - both spatially and in terms of social reality. Western visions and discourses of the metropolis and city development, including those of  the Scottish urban environment, have resulted in unequal and restricted access, participation and representation. 

Yet what a city of, for and made by women might be, is a more evasive, complex political, historical and experiential story and ecology of work and collective practices. 

Women on construction site, France, WWI
Group of female carpenters building an extension, France, during World War I © National Library of Scotland