Sexuality and space is a field of study within human geography. The phrase encompasses all relationships and interactions between human sexuality and the environment; including but not limited to cultural geography, i.e. proximity and architectural psychology. Specific topics which fall into this area are sex tourism,[1] prostitution, use of sexual location in the arts,[2][3] and sexual citizenship.[4] Although many aspects of the topic may fall under different headings the field is typically taught from a macro perspective as Sexuality and Space at the University level.[5]


The field of study may date back to the work of Alfred Kinsey in relation to the geographical sampling data compiled in his Kinsey Reports.The origins of the term "Sexuality and Space" can be traced back to the early 1990s where usage of the phrase was popularized by two publications. In 1990 what may be described as 'Gay Geography' was presented to a wider audience when an article by Larry Knopp was published in the Geographical Magazine to some controversy.[6] In 1992 Beatriz Colomina's Sexuality and Space (Princeton Papers on Architecture) was released; in which the term is used to elaborate on the symbolism of towers and other structures as Phallic icons. The paper goes on to discuss the sexual psychology of color and other design elements.[7] A review of the papers was released by Elizabeth Wilson in Harvard Design Magazine, Winter/Spring 1997.[8]


Although sexuality remains a topic that hardly gets a mention in school geography, it has become an accepted part of many university geography departments and is often taught as part of a course on Cultural Geography. Arguably, the most influential book-publication to position sexuality as an accepted part of geography was Mapping Desire, an edited collection by David Bell and Gill Valentine . Bell and Valentine provide a critical review of the history of geographical works on sexuality and set an agenda for further research. They are especially critical of the earliest sexual geographies written during the 1970s and 1980s in the UK and North America. In contrast to the ‘dots on maps’ approach of the 1970s and 1980s, Mapping Desire represents an attempt to map the geographies of homosexuality, transsexuality, bisexuality, sadomasochism and butch-femme lesbian identities.[9]

Other fields of research

Studies such as Risk Assessment of Long-Haul Truck Drivers by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, active since April 2007,[10] may also be related to this field of study as the statistics gathered will represent sampling of sexual behavior in a controlled population of a subgroup.[11][12]


The following academic organizations are devoted to the study of Sexuality and Space.

  • Sexuality and Space Speciality Group of the AAG, University of Leeds, United Kingdom[13]


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