Geography 533: Globalizing Care and Responsibility


Winter, 2007



Victoria Lawson                                                          Tel: 543-5196

Office: Smith 303-D                                                   e-mail:





This course explores the centrality of care work and care ethics to our lives and to society broadly.  We will look at how shifts in contemporary society (in the U.S. and across the globe) suggest an urgent need for care (in many senses).  Specifically, we will examine the context for care including:  i) the extension of market relations into almost everything (health care, education, environmental protection, elder-care etc.; ii) the systematic devaluation of care-work; iii) pervasive discourses of personal responsibility (for poverty, inner city decline, unemployment, etc.); and iv) withdrawal of state supports in many crucial arenas.  We will examine how care work is being intensified and simultaneously devalued, we will explore the ways in which care is a public rather than a private matter and we will think about our responsibilities to care for those who are near and those who are across the globe. 


The first part of the course will examine the growing need to take care seriously in academic work, in public policy and in our own lives.  We will then think about the possibilities and challenges of really caring across distance and to respectfully engage with people in distant and different places.  Finally, we will explore the myriad theoretical and practical challenges of care ethics: how do we navigate the research/politics boundary; how do we understand ourselves in a global frame; what approaches to research enable a critical and yet analytical view; what do care ethics mean for our professional practices and involvements?  We will think through the challenges of producing innovative and caring knowledge under ethical and responsible relations to people with whom we work. 


Course Readings:


A course reading packet will be available for purchase at Rams Copy and Print on the Ave.



Course Requirements:


i) Complete all assigned readings before class meetings, and participating in critical discussions of those readings.


ii) Write a ‘think piece’ on 1 reading each week of the quarter.  These will be one paragraph in length, discussing your reaction to (at least) one of the readings for that week, these will be circulated at the beginning of the class session and will be incorporated into our activities for that session.


iii) Lead class sessions (designed by you) that engage ideas from the readings.


iv) Comple a research paper (20 pages) prompted by themes raised in class and guided by your own research trajectory.



Important Dates


Monday Jan. 15th Martin Luther King’s Birthday


Monday Feb. 19th President’s Day


** Monday March 12th paper due in my box **






I. Introduction (Weeks 1-3)


Ø      The context for Care – neo-liberal times and the intensification and devaluation of care


Ø      What are critical feminist care ethics?


Ø      What does it mean to talk about our ethical responsibilities to care?



II. Care as a Public Matter (Weeks 4-7)


Ø      The substance of care-work – its marginalization and centrality in our lives


Ø      Understanding care as produced through histories and institutions that reproduce oppression, exclusion, poverty, environmental degradation, ill-health etc.


Ø      How do we care and take responsibility across distance?



III. Care Ethics and Reframing Responsibility (Weeks 8-10)


Ø      Building relations of mutuality and interdependence


Ø      Considering critical, ethical responsibility






Week 1 (Jan 3rd)


Discussion of intellectual framing of the course.  All participants will introduce themselves and their interests.  Class discussion of learning goals and approaches to learning that are most successful for each person.  Discussion of what brought students to the course and of what each person hopes to take away.



Week 2 (Jan 10th)


Context for Care: neo-liberal times



Noddings, N.  2005.  ‘Global Citizenship: promises and problems’ in Noddings, N. (ed) Educating Citizens for Global Awareness.  New York: Teachers College Press.


Peck, J.  2001.  Workfare States.  New York: Guildford Press.  Introduction, chapters 2 and 3.


Schram, S.  2000.  After welfare: the culture of postindustrial social policy.  New York: New York University Press.  Chapters 1,2, 3 and 7.


Teller-Elsberg, J., Folbre, N., Heintz, J.  2006.  Field Guide to the U.S. economy: a compact and irreverent guide to economic life in America.  New York: New Press.  Select pages.


McDowell, L.  2004.  ‘Work, workfare, work/life balance and an ethic of care’ Progress in Human Geography 28(2): 145-163.


SAPRIN Executive Summary, 2002.  ‘The Policy Roots of Economic Crisis and Poverty’.


Walton, J. and D. Seddon.  1994.  Free Markets and Food Riots.  Chapters 1 and 2.  Oxford: Blackwell.  



Week 3 (Jan 17th)


What are Critical Feminist Care Ethics?


Lawson, V.  2007.  Geographies of Care and Responsibility.  Annals of the Association of American Geographers, forthcoming


Tronto, J.  1993.  Moral Boundaries.  A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care.  New York: Routledge. Chapters 4 and 5.


Kittay, E.  1999.  Love’s Labor: essays on women, equality and dependency.  New York: Routlege.  Chapters: introduction, 5 and 6.


Held, V.  Feminist Morality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Chapters 5, 10 and epilogue.


Held, V.  2002.  ‘Care and the Extension of Markets’ Hypatia 17(2): 19-33.


Kobayashi, A. and J. Proctor.  2003.  ‘Values, Ethics and Justice’ in Gaile, G. and C. Wilmott (eds) Geography in America at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century.  Oxford: Blackwell.



Week 4 (Jan 24th)


Care as a Public Matter: gender and the value of care



Folbre, N.  2006.  ‘Demanding quality: Worker/consumer coalitions and ‘high road’ strategies in the care sector’ Politics and Society 34(1), 11-31. 


Staeheli, L.  2003.  ‘Women and the work of community’ Environment and Planning A 35, 815-831.


England, K.  2007.  ‘Welfare provision, welfare reform, welfare mothers’ forthcoming in Cox, K., Low, M., and Robinson, J (eds.) Handbook of Political Geography.  London: Sage.


Folbre, N. and M. Bittman (eds). 2004.  Family time: the social organization of care.  New York: Routlege.  Introduction and chapter 11.


Heyman, J.  2005.  ‘Can Working Families Ever Win?” The Boston Review 27(1) at


Tronto, J.  2005. .  ‘The Value of Care.’   The Boston Review 27(1) at 


Skocpol, T.  2005.  ‘The Political Bind’ The Boston Review 27(1) at



Week 5 (Jan 31st)


Care as a Public Matter: the breadth of care


Parr, H.  2003.  ‘Medical geography: care and caring’ Progress in Human Geography 27(2), 212-221.


Staeheli, L. and Brown, M.  2003.  ‘Where has welfare gone?  Introductory remarks on the geographies of care and welfare’ Environment and Planning A 35, 771-777.


Brown, M.  2003.  ‘Hospice and the spatial paradoxes of terminal care’ Environment and Planning A 35, 833-851.


Hondagneu-Sotelo, P.  2000. ‘The International Division of Caring and Cleaning Work’ in Care Work.  Gender, Labor and the Welfare State.  New York: Routlege.


Coltrane, S. and Galt, J. 2000.  ‘The History of Men’s Caring’ in Harrington-Meyer, M. (ed) Care Work.  Gender, Labor and the Welfare State.  New York: Routlege.


Russell, R.  2007.  ‘The Work of Elderly Men Caregivers’ Men and Masculinities 9(3), 298-314.


Milligan, C.  2001.  Geographies of Care.  Aldershot: Ashgate.  Introduction and chapter 3.



Week 6 (Feb 7th)


Caring Across Distance I


Pogge, T.   World Poverty and Human Rights: cosmopolitan responsibilities and reforms.   Chapters Introduction, 2 and 4.


Sayer, A. and Storper, M.  1997.  ‘Ethics Unbound: for a normative turn in social theory’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 15: 1-17.


Massey, D. 2004.  ‘Geographies of Responsibility’ Geografiska Annaler 86B(1), 5-18.


Farmer, P.  2003.  Pathologies of Power.  Berkeley: UC Press.  Chapters: introduction, 1, 5 and 6.


Butler, J.  2004.  ‘Violence, Mourning, Politics’ in Precarious Life.  London: Verso Press.   



Week 7 (Feb 14th)


Caring Across Distance II


Corbridge, S.  1993.  ‘Marxisms, modernities and moralities: development praxis and the claims of distant strangers’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 11, 449-472.


Robinson, F.  1999.  Globalizing Care.  Ethics, Feminist Theory and International Relations.  Boulder: Westview Press.  Chapters 5 and 6.


Slater, D.  1997.  ‘Spatialities of power and postmodern ethics – rethinking geopolitical encounters’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 15: 55-72.


Examine Jubilee Campaign’s mission and projects online at:


Jaggar, A.  2003.  ‘Vulnerable Women and Neoliberal Globalization: Debt Burdens Undermine Women’s Health in the Global South’ in Fiore, F. and Nelson, H. (eds) Recognition, Responsibility and Rights.


Schutte, O. 2001.  ‘Dependency Work, Women and the Global Economy’ in Kittay, E. and Feder, E. (eds) The subject of care: feminist perspectives on dependency.  Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.



Week 8 (Feb 21st)


Care and Responsibility


Cloke, P.  2002.  ‘Deliver us from evil? Prospects for living ethically and acting politically in human geography’ Progress in Human Geography 26(5), 587-604


Young, I.  1990.  ‘The Ideal of Community and the Politics of Difference’ in Nicholson, L. (ed) Feminism/Postmodernism.  New York: Routledge.


Fraser, N.  1995.  ‘From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a ‘Post-Socialist’ Age’ New Left Review 212: 68-93.


Fraser, N.  2005.  ‘Mapping the Feminist Imagination: From Redistribution to Recognition to Representation.  Constellations 12(3).


St. Clair, A.  2006.  ‘Global Poverty: Development Ethics Meets Global Justice’ Globalizations 3(2), 139-157.


Wildung-Harrison, B.  Justice in the Making.  Chapters 2 and 6.  London: Westminster John Knox Press.



Week 9 (Feb 28th)


Practicing care ethics I


Spivak, G.  1998.  ‘Cultural Talks in the Hot Peace: Revisiting the “Global Village”’ in Cheah, P and Robbins, B. (eds).  Cosmopolitics: thinking and feeling beyond the nation.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Monhanty, C.  2003.  Feminism without Borders: decolonizing theory, practicing solidarity.  Duke: Duke University Press.   Introduction and chapter 9.


Staeheli, L. and Nagar, R.  2002.  ‘Feminists Talking Across Worlds’ Gender, Place and Culture 9(2): 167-172.


Silvey, R. 2002.  ‘Sweatshops and Corporatization of the University’ Gender, Place and Culture 9(2): 201-207.


Nagar, R.  2002.  ‘Footloose Researchers, ‘Traveling’ Theories, and the Politics of Transnational Feminist Praxis’ Gender, Place and Culture 9(2): 179-186.


Routledge, P.  2003.  ‘Convergence space: process geographies of grassroots globalization networks’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 28, 333-349.


 Week 10 (Mar 7th)


Practicing Care Ethics II or Professional Responsibilities?


Valentine, G.  2005.  ‘Geography and ethics: moral geographies?  Ethical commitment in research and teaching’ Progress in Human Geography 29(4): 483-487.


Jaggar, A.  1989.  ‘Love and knowledge: emotion in feminist epistemology’ in Jaggar, A. and S. Bordo (eds.) Gender/body/knowledge: feminist reconstructions of being and knowing.  New Brunswick, N.J.: University of Rutgers Press.


Hart, G.  2006.  ‘Denaturalizing Disposession: Critical Ethnography in the Age of Resurgent Imperialism’ Antipode Vol 38(5): 977- 1004


Visweswaran, K.  1994.  Fictions of Feminist Ethnography.  Chapter 6.   Mineapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Davis, C.  2006.  ‘Sylvia’s Story’ Qualitiative Inquiry 12(6): 1220-1243.