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Tel Aviv University
TAU Tovi Fenster: A Profile of a Political Activist
Editorial Note

Tovi Fenster, a professor of urban planning at Tel Aviv University, has turned her tenured position into a platform for political activism.   A perusal of her publications indicates that her urban planning research suffered from serious "mission creep," another way of saying that she has embraced what has nothing to do with urban planning. Here are some examples: "Between socio-spatial and urban Justice: Rawls' Principles of Justice in the 2011 Israeli Protest Movement”; "Tactics and Strategies of Power: The Construction of Spaces of Belonging for Palestinian Women in Jaffa-Tel Aviv"; “Teaching Gender in Israel: Experience in Tel Aviv University.” “Belly Dancing in Israel: Body Embodiment, Religion and Nationality,” and so on. 

Fenster was hired to teach and research urban planning, but like other activist faculty profiled by IAM she is pursuing a political agenda at the expanse of the tax payer. 
Her many graduate students have followed the lead. For example, Chen Misgav wrote his doctoral dissertation titled Spatial Activism in the City: Perspectives of Body, Identity and Memory.   The Planning for the environment with communities (PECLAB) website indicates that Misgav "works as full time student on his PhD at the PECLAB since 2008 and serves as the PECLAB coordinator."  His dissertation is part of Fenster's apparent effort to "re-define the concept of activism by exposing and examining the ways activists construct urban spaces using concepts such as identity, embodiment and memory.  The basic assumption of this research is that activism in the global era serves as an important element in our cities." 
 How do Fenster and her students link this type of research to urban planning? The trick is simple: add the term “space” or “spatial” to the title and it becomes "urban planning."
Like other faculty activists, Fenster has benefited from the expansive notion of academic freedom in the social sciences.  She is clearly a winner of this system. Regrettably, the students and the taxpayers are the losers.


Gendered Rights to the City: Intersections of
Identity and Power
April 19–20, 2015
Conference Program
Conference co–organized by the
International Geographical Union Commission on Gender and Geography
and the Geographical Perspectives on Women Specialty Group of the
Association of American Geographers
Hosted and co–organized by the
Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

Tovi Fenster

Tel Aviv University


“The Right to the Gender City or the Gendered Right to the City?”

Co–author: Chen Misgav

The 2011 Israeli protest movement and the active involvement of the authors in one of the camp’s

activities enabled us to re–visit and re–evaluate the idea of ‘the right to the gendered city’ developed

ten years ago (Fenster, 2005). In analyzing the establishment and the functioning of the Levinsky Camp

protest built in southern Tel Aviv by the Mizrahi Achoti NGO feminist activists, we could further theorize

this notion and suggest an alternative term: ‘the gendered and feminist right to the city’. This new term

explicitly emphasizes the articulation between gender, ethnicity, race and class manifested in this case

study. The study also highlights different formations of citizenship and exclusion and situations or

moments of breaking the binary between exclusion/inclusion; private/public; citizen/non citizen ; safe

spaces/dangerous spaces which turned out to be fluid situations rather then sharp and contrasting ones

. In these moments it is the activities of the Achoti NGO and their practices of inclusion that present

another meaning to the gendered and feminist right to the city in which the focus of analysis is on the

RIGHTS rather then on the CITY as has been in the previous concept.

Tel–Aviv University
“Some Spatial Politics of Queer–Feminist Research: Personal Reflections from the Field”
This paper addresses methodological issues that emerged from research conducted with an LGBT
activist group called "Trans in the Center" who are located in Tel Aviv, Israel. The paper focuses on two
main issues – the issue of the positionality of the researcher vis–à–vis the participants, and the issue of
choosing the appropriate research methodology for empirical analysis, in relation to the character of the
researched group. Such issues demonstrate the way in which queer and feminist principles integrate
into the geographical–spatial research. Queer–feminist principles are expressed in two different
dimensions – on the one hand in the research practice and methodology with which it is conducted –
and on the other hand, in the practices and the spaces created by the activity of the researched group
itself. Finally, I present the insights and conclusions rising from the attempt to join feminist and queer
principles in both theory and research, and calls for an assimilation of research paradigm, which will
integrate these principles into the geographical research.
Chen Misgav
Tel Aviv University
“The Right to the Gender City or the Gendered Right to the City?”

Co–author: Tovi Fenster (Abstract listed under Tovi Fenster)

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