Genders, Sexualities and Cities: Global Contexts and Local Possibilities


  • Alan Mabin University of the Witwatersrand
  • Tamara Shefer University of the Western Cape



genders, sexualities, cities, intersectionalities, literature review, summary of articles


This article is primarily a review of international research-based literatures that explore the three areas of genders, sexualities and cities and the intersections between them. Its purpose is to explore the ways in which diverse literatures bring gender and sexuality studies to the city, and city studies to exploration of genders and sexualities. The article intends to locate this special issue, informing those interested in widening the field, and generating new questions for conceptualisation, research and writing in the coming decades. It draws cautiously on global conceptualisation of the issues, then sets out a variety of approaches including feminist, gay, queer and related perspectives. It moves on to the ways in which gender and sexualities research might contribute to “better cities”. The article also outlines contributions to this special issue of the journal on “Genders, sexualities and place: (Re)Imagining and (re)making urban spaces”, relating them to themes in global literature.

Author Biography

Tamara Shefer, University of the Western Cape



Aldrich, R. (2004). Homosexuality and the city: An historical overview. Urban Studies, 41(9), 1719–1737. DOI:

Arora, S. (2019). Walking at midnight: Women and danger on Delhi’s streets. Journal of Public Pedagogies, 4, 171–176. DOI:

Bain, A. L., & Podmore, J. A. (2021a). Placing LGBTQ+ urban activisms: Special issue introduction. Urban Studies, 58(7), 1305–1326. DOI:

Bain, A. L., & Podmore, J. A. (2021b). Relocating queer: Comparing suburban LGBTQ2S activisms on Vancouver’s periphery. Urban Studies, 58(7), 1500–1519. DOI:

Batra, K. (2016). Worlding sexualities under apartheid: from gay liberation to a queer afropolitanism. Postcolonial Studies, 19(1), 37–52. DOI:

Batra, K. (2018). Transporting metropolitanism: Road-mapping feminist solutions to sexual violence in Delhi. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 54(3), 387–397. DOI:

Batra, K. (2021). Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities: Publics, Counterpublics, Human Rights. London: Routledge. DOI:

Beebeejaun, Y. (2017). Gender, urban space, and the right to everyday life. Journal of Urban Affairs, 39(3), 323–334. DOI:

Bell, D., &‎ Valentine, G. (1995). Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities. Routledge.

Benjamin, W. (1999). The Arcades Project (K. McLaughlin, Trans.). Belknap Harvard.

Bhan, G. (2019). Notes on a southern urban practice. Environment and Urbanization 31(2), 639–654. DOI:

Biarrotte, L. (2021). Déconstruire le genre des pensées, normes and pratiques de l’urbanisme [Doctoral thesis, University of Paris-Est].

Boellstorff, T. (2012). Some notes on new frontiers of sexuality and globalisation. In P. Aggleton, P. Boyce, H. L. Moore & R. Parker (Eds.), Understanding global sexualities: New frontiers (pp. 171–185). Routledge. DOI:

Bondi, L. (1998). Gender, class, and urban space: Public and private space in contemporary urban landscapes. Urban Geography, 19(2), 160–185. DOI:

Bondi, L., & Rose, D. (2003). Constructing gender, constructing the urban: A review of Anglo-American feminist urban geography. Gender, Place and Culture, 10(3), 229–245. DOI:

Brenner, N., & Schmid, C. (2015). Towards a new epistemology of the urban. City, 19(2–3), 151–182. DOI:

Brown, G. (2017). The queer city. In J. R. Short (Ed.), A Research Agenda for Cities (pp. 53–68). Elgar. DOI:

Castells, M. (1979). The Urban Question. Blackwell.

Corrêa, S., Davis, B. R., & Parker, R. (2014). Sexuality and globalities. In D. L. Tolman, L. M. Diamond, J. A. Bauermeister, W. H. George, J. G. Pfaus & L. M. Ward (Eds.), APA handbook of sexuality and psychology, Vol. 2. Contextual approaches (pp. 267–308). American Psychological Association. DOI:

Desai, M. (Ed). (2020). Gender and the Built Environment in India. Zubaan.

Desai, M. (Ed.). (2022). Gender and the Indian City: Revisioning Design and Planning. South Asia Press.

Doan, P. L. (Ed.). (2011). Queerying Planning: Challenging Heteronormative Assumptions and Reframing Planning Practice. Ashgate.

Forsyth, A. (2001). Sexuality and space: nonconformist populations and planning practice. Journal of Planning Literature, 15(3), 339–358. DOI:

Gamlin, J. (2022). Coloniality and the political economy of gender: Edgework in Juárez city. Urban Studies, 59(3), 509–525. DOI:

Ghaziani, A. (2015). The queer metropolis. In J. DeLamater & R. F. Plante (Eds.), Handbook of the Sociology of Sexualities (pp. 305–330). Springer. DOI:

Ghaziani, A. (2019). Cultural archipelagos: New directions in the study of sexuality and space. City and Community, 18(1), 4–22. DOI:

Ghaziani, A. (2021). People, protest and place: Advancing research on the emplacement of LGBTQ+ urban activisms. Urban Studies, 58(7), 1529–1540. DOI:

Gieseking, J. J. (2016). Crossing over into neighbourhoods of the body: Urban territories, borders and lesbian-queer bodies in New York City. Area, 48(3), 262–270. DOI:

Gieseking, J. J. (2020a). A Queer New York: Geographies of Lesbians, Dykes, and Queers. NYU Press. DOI:

Gieseking, J. J. (2020b). Mapping lesbian and queer lines of desire: Constellations of queer urban space. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 38(5), 941–960. DOI:

Gopal, K., & Shin, E. J. (2019). The impacts of rail transit on the lives and travel experiences of women in the developing world: Evidence from the Delhi metro. Cities, 88, 66–75. DOI:

Gorman-Murray, A., & Baganz, E. (2019). Geographies of gender and sexuality in Australia, from 1994 to 2018. Gender, Place and Culture, 26(7–9), 945–955. DOI:

Gottzén, L., Mellström, U., & Shefer, T. (Eds.). (2020). Routledge International Handbook of Masculinity Studies. Routledge. DOI:

Hemmings, C. (1995). Locating bisexual identities: Discourses of bisexuality and contemporary feminist theory. In D. Bell & G. Valentine (Eds.), Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities. Routledge.

Hubbard, P. (2001). Sex and the City: Geographies of Prostitution in the Urban West. Routledge.

Hubbard, P. (2011). Cities and Sexualities. Routledge.

Hubbard, P., Gorman-Murray, A., & Nash, C. J. (2015). Cities and sexualities. In J. DeLatamer & R. F. Plante (Eds.), Handbook of the Sociology of Sexualities (pp. 287–303). Springer. DOI:

Hyde, J. S., Bigler, R. S., Joel, D., Tate, C. C., & Van Anders, S. M. (2019). The future of sex and gender in psychology: Five challenges to the gender binary. American Psychologist, 74(2), 171–193. DOI:

Kern, L. (2017). Dolores Hayden. In R. Koch & A. Latham (Eds.), Key Thinkers on Cities (pp. 123–128). Sage. DOI:

Kern, L. (2020). Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World. Verso.

Koch, R., & Latham, A. (Eds.). (2017). Key Thinkers on Cities. Sage. DOI:

Lapalud, P., Blache, C., & Roussel-Richard, L. (2016). Le droit à la flânerie: Genre et Ville. Les Cahiers de la LCD, 1(1), 34–57. DOI:

La Rocca, M. (2016). L.G.B.T.Q.—Landscapes of gentrification building up in Turin: The Quadrilatero Romano [Paper presentation]. RC21 urban and regional research conference, Mexico City, July.

Laslett, B., & Brenner, J. (1989). Gender and social reproduction: Historical perspectives. Annual Review of Sociology, 15, 383–384. DOI:

Lauster, M. (2007). Walter Benjamin’s myth of the “Flâneur”. Modern Language Review, 102(1), 139–156. DOI:

Lemmey, H. (2017). The gay right to the city. In Verso books UK (Ed.), The Right to the City—A Verso Report (pp. 170–179). Verso.

Mackenzie, S. (1980a). Women and the Reproduction of Labour Power in the Industrial City. Brighton: University of Sussex.

Mackenzie, S. (1980b). Women’s place—Women’s space. Area, 12, 47–49.

Mackenzie, S. (1989a). Restructuring the relations of work and life: women as environmental actors, feminism as geographical analysis. In A. Kobayashi & S. Mackenzie (Eds.), Remaking Human Geography (pp. 40–61). Unwin Hyman.

Mackenzie, S. (1989b). Women and the city. In R. Peet & N. Thrift (Eds.), New Models in Geography, Volume 2 (pp. 109–126). Routledge. DOI:

Mackenzie, S., & Rose, D. (1983). Industrial change, the domestic economy and home life. In J. Anderson, S. Duncan & R. Hudson (Eds.), Redundant Spaces? Studies in Industrial Decline and Social Change (pp. 155–200). Academic Press.

Maginn, P. J.,‎ & Steinmetz, C. (Eds.). (2014). (Sub)Urban Sexscapes: Geographies and Regulation of the Sex Industry. Routledge. DOI:

Morgenroth, T., Sendén, M. G., Lindqvist, A., Renström, E. A., Ryan, M. K., & Morton, T. A. (2021). Defending the sex/gender binary: The role of gender identification and need for closure. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12(5), 731–740. DOI:

Moser, C. (2021). From gender planning to gender transformation: Positionality, theory and practice in cities of the Global South. International Development Planning Review, 43(2), 205–229. DOI:

Oswin, N. (2015). World, city, queer. Antipode, 47(3), 557–565. DOI:

Oswin, N. (2019). An other geography. Dialogues in Human Geography, 10(1), 9–18. DOI:

Peake, L. (1993). “Race” and sexuality: Challenging the patriarchal structuring of urban social space. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 11(4), 415–432. DOI:

Peake, L. (2016a). On feminism and feminist allies in knowledge production in urban geography. Urban Geography, 37(6), 830–838. DOI:

Peake, L. (2016b). The twenty-first century quest for feminism and the global urban. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40(1), 219–227. DOI:

Peake, L., Koleth, E., Sarp Tanyildiz, G., Reddy, R. N., and Patrick, D. (Eds.). (2021). A Feminist Urban Theory for Our Time: Rethinking Social Reproduction and the Urban. Wiley. DOI:

Podmore, J. (2013). [Review of the book Queerying Planning: Challenging Heteronormative Assumptions and Reframing Planning Practice, by P. L. Doan (Ed.)]. Emotion, Space and Society, 7, 72–73. DOI:

Qian, J. (2017). Beyond heteronormativity? Gay cruising, closeted experiences and self-disciplining subject in People’s Park, Guangzhou. Urban Geography, 38(5), 771–794. DOI:

Ray, A. (2007). Sex on the open market: sex workers harness the power of the internet. In K. Jacobs, M. Janssen & M. Pasquinelli (Eds.), C’Lick Me: A Netporn Studies Reader (pp. 45–68). Institute of Network Cultures.

Rezende, R., & Heynen, H. (2021). Slutwalks in Brasília. The utopia of an egalitarian city and its gendered spaces. Architecture and Culture, 9(4), 606–624. DOI:

Rose, G. (1993). Feminism and Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge. Polity Press.

Roy, A. (2016). Who’s afraid of postcolonial theory? International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40(1), 200–209. DOI:

Roy, A., & Ong, A. (2011). Worlding cities: Asian experiments and the art of being global. Wiley-Blackwell. DOI:

Ruddick, S., Peake, L., Patrick, D., & Tanyildiz, G.S. (2018). Planetary urbanization: An urban theory for our time? Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 36(3), 387–404. DOI:

Sadana, R. (2022). The Moving City: Scenes from the Delhi Metro and the Social Life of Infrastructure. University of California Press. DOI:

Sandercock, L. (Ed.). (1998). Making the Invisible Visible: A Multicultural Planning History. University of California Press. DOI:

Sanders, T. (2008). Male sexual scripts: Intimacy, sexuality and pleasure in the purchase of commercial sex. Sociology, 42(3), 400–417. DOI:

Sarp Tanyildiz, G., Peake, L., Koleth, E., Reddy, R. N., Patrick, D. P., & Ruddick, S. (2021). Rethinking social reproduction and the urban. In L. Peake, E. Koleth, G. Sarp Tanyildiz, R. N. Reddy & D Patrick (Eds.), A Feminist Urban Theory for Our Time: Rethinking Social Reproduction and the Urban (pp. 1–41). DOI:

Saunders, P. (1981). Social Theory and the Urban Question. Hutchinson.

Scott, A. (2013). A World in Emergence: Cities and Regions in the 21st Century. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. DOI:

Tajbaksh, K. (2001). The Promise of the City: Space, Identity and Politics in Contemporary Global Thought. University of California Press. DOI:

Tarrant, S. (2015). Gender, Sex, and Politics: In the Streets and Between the Sheets in the 21st Century. Routledge. DOI:

Tucker, A. (2023). Charting directions for—and challenges at being able to undertake—future research on African urban sexualities. Urban Forum, 34(2), 245–252. DOI:

Tucker, A., & Hassan, N. (2020). Situating sexuality: An interconnecting research agenda in the urban Global South. Geoforum, 117, 287–290. DOI:

Turek, A. (2021, 3 September). Queering the flâneur: Constructing identity through thoughtful wandering. boshemia.

Urbina-Julio, A. (2022). [Review of the book A Feminist Urban Theory for Our Time: Rethinking Social Reproduction and the Urban, by L. Peake, E. Koleth, G. Sarp-Tanyildiz, R. Reddy & D. Patrick]. Urban Studies, 59(12), 2607–2609. DOI:

Valentine, G. (1993a). (Hetero)sexing space: Lesbian perceptions and experiences of everyday spaces. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 11, 395–413. DOI:

Valentine, G. (1993b). Negotiating and managing multiple sexual identities: Lesbian time—Space strategies. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 18(2), 237–248. DOI:

Verso. (2017). The Right to the City: A Verso Report. Verso.

Vidal-Ortiz, S., Robinson, B. A., & Khan, C. (2018). Race and Sexuality. Polity.

Ward, K., Binnie, J., Brown, G., Browne, K., Ingram, A., Isaacs, G., Leap, W., and Tucker, A. (2010). Reading Andrew Tucker’s Queer visibilities: Space, Identity and interactions in Cape Town. Political Geography, 29(8), 454–462. https://doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2010.07.004 DOI:

Watson, V. (2023). A southern urban planning theory-building project. In O. Yiftachel & N. Mammon (Eds.), theoriSE: debating the southeastern turn in urban theories (pp. 26–31). Cape Town: University of Cape Town.

Weier, J. (2020). (Re)producing the sexuality binary: On bisexual experiences in U.S. gay and heterosexual spaces. Gender, Place and Culture, 27(9), 1308–1325. DOI:

Wilson, A. (2014). Sexualities. In D. M. Nonini (Ed.), A Companion to Urban Anthropology (pp. 193–209). Wiley. DOI:

Wirth, L. (1938). Urbanism as a way of life. American Journal of Sociology, 44(1), 1–24. DOI:

Wolff, J. (2010). Keynote: Unmapped spaces—Gender, generation and the city. Feminist Review, 9, 6–19. DOI:



How to Cite

Mabin, A., & Shefer, T. (2023). Genders, Sexualities and Cities: Global Contexts and Local Possibilities. Social and Health Sciences, 21(1 and 2), 22 pages .



Special Issue