Tenets For a Radical Care Ethics in Geography

  • Lydia Wood Department of Geography, San Diego State University
  • Kate Swanson Department of Geography, San Diego State University
  • Donald E. Colley III Department of Geography, Oklahoma State University
Keywords: Emotional geography, radical geography, neoliberal university, youth, health


This paper draws from experiences working with youth in Southern California, many of whom are increasingly under mental, emotional and financial duress. We write this paper to reflect on the capacity to be both radical and caring scholars within academia. We suggest that by combining the complimentary and parallel aims of radical geography’s concern for social justice and care ethics’ concern for relationality and emotions, we can gain important insights into what it might mean to be caring and radical academics. We propose three tenets for what we term a ‘Radical Care Ethics’ in geography: 1) Research and teaching that is committed to understanding and improving the material conditions of those living on the margins; 2) Scholarship and teaching that extends outside of academic circles to engage meaningfully with the lives of those on the margins; and 3) Attention towards the emotions of others and ourselves in ways that further a commitment to care. We argue that a radical care ethics can serve as an intellectual compass that can begin to address the precarity of those surviving on the margins, particularly young people. A radical care ethics has potential to not only pave the way for more socially responsive scholarship, but to also transform our universities into more caring and socially-just institutions.

Author Biographies

Lydia Wood, Department of Geography, San Diego State University

Lydia Wood is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography, San Diego State University. 

Kate Swanson, Department of Geography, San Diego State University

Dr. Kate Swanson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at San Diego State University

Donald E. Colley III, Department of Geography, Oklahoma State University

Donald Colley is a Instructor of Professional Practice in Oklahoma State University's Department of Geography.


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How to Cite
Wood, L., Swanson, K., & Colley III, D. (2020). Tenets For a Radical Care Ethics in Geography. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 19(2), 424-447. Retrieved from https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/1767